Skip to main content

Full text of "Memoir of the life of Laurence Oliphant and of Alice Oliphant, his wife"

See other formats


JIMll .&*' 





Post 8vo, 10s. 6d. 

' ' He has the gift, not common in this country, of the esprit Gaulois; he aims 
his strokes at follies, and abuses without any semblance of effort. His wit is 

at once keen and light-hearted Not only, however, are Mr Oliphant's 

stories new and delightful, but the turn of thought which they suggest, and 
which he follows up without in the least riding it to death, is specially un- 
expected and humorous." Saturday Review. 


FROM A ROLLING STONE. Fifth Edition. Post 8vo, 6s. 

"The book bristles with adventures in every page. Among these his 
sporting reminiscences will be found the most absorbingly exciting. We wish 
we could transcribe some of them." Saturday Review. 

" He has talked with great people of both hemispheres, he has seen striking 
and historical events, and all this he records only too briefly in a fluent easy 
manner, making his book a delightful companion." Daily Telegraph. 

LEBANON. With Illustrations and Maps. Demy 8vo, 21s. 

"The principal charm of the book will be the singularly agreeable narrative 
of a journey through regions more replete, perhaps, with varied and striking 
associations than any other in the world. Practical observations on the 
resources of the country, witty and animated descriptions, and ingenious 
topographical speculations, are judiciously leavened with personal adventure 
and original reflections." A thenceum. 

THE LAND OF KHEMI. Post 8vo, with Illustrations. 
10s. 6d. 

"We lay down the book with the rare feeling of regret that we have finished 
it so soon. It is that most delightful of volumes a perfectly fresh book of 
travel about a country which one might suppose to have been written about 
over and over again by traveller after traveller till there remained nothing 
more to say." Saturday Review. 

" The interest of the book is of the most varied kind ; and Mr Oliphant 
writes now, as ever, with a literary charm of which very few authors besides 
himself have the secret." World. 


8vo, 7s. 6d. 

"It conveys in a pleasant and readable form a vivid idea of the life, and 
gives an animated picture of the towns and plains of Palestine. They embody 
in popular language much of the profoundly interesting information brought 
to light by the researches of the ' Palestine Exploration Fund.' " Scotsman. 


New Edition. With 8 Illustrations, cloth, 3s. 6d. 

" The real interest of ' Piccadilly ' lies in the clever morceaux with which it 
is literally jewelled. They sparkle in every page." Pall Mall Gazette. 

" The picture of ' Good Society ' meaning thereby the society of men and 
women of wealth or rank contained in this book, constitutes its chief merit, 
and is remarkable for the point and vigour of the author's style." Athenaeum. 

ALTIORA PETO. New Edition. Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. 
Illustrated Edition, 6s. 

"Brilliant, delightful The book is one which everybody will greedily 

read and greatly admire It contains enough to equip a score of ordinary 

novelists for the production of a score of extraordinary novels." Athenceum. 

" May be characterised as a novel of a thousand, if only for the fact that it 
may be read through consecutively twice, or even thrice, with augmented 
pleasure to the reader with every fresh perusal. " Spectator. 

post 8vo, 25s. 6d. 

"The story is one of such absorbing interests and ever-changing possibili- 
ties, that to tell the reader beforehand 'how the wheels go round,' would be 
to rob him of a rare pleasure." Saturday Review. 

" Mr Oliphant has contrived to write a striking and curious novel, patient 
in elaboration, full of suggestive conversations, and evincing a power of pro- 
jection into an unknown plane of things which cannot but claim our admira- 
tion." Times. 

" A brilliant and effective novel, full of exciting incident, full of character, 
and full to overflowing, perhaps, of subtle analysis." Illustrated London 

FORCES. Second Edition. 8vo, 16s. 












All Rights reserved 


IT has been suggested that the publication of this new 
edition of the Memoirs of Laurence and Alice Oliphant 
would be a fitting opportunity to take some notice of the 
much discussion and the many revelations and explana : 
tions made on the subject of Mr Thomas Lake Harris 
since the first edition was published. Up to that time 
the world in general knew very little of the prophet 
of Brocton, now the autocrat, teacher, and proprietor of 
Fountain Grove, Santa Rosa, California, and all the souls 
appertaining thereto. I have been accused of making no 
attempt to obtain information about him, and of neglect- 
ing opportunities thrown in my way. This, however, is so 
completely a mistake, that my efforts to obtain information 
concerning the antecedents and personality of a man whose 
influence upon the subjects of my work was so remarkable, 
were many, but were mere gropings in the dark until the 
publication of that work attracted general attention and 
lighted up lanterns everywhere. I am not sure, after all, 
that this new flood of information has thrown very much 
light on the subject ; for to know that Mr Harris was born 


in England, instead of being a native American, and that 
for a period he was a well-known preacher in New York, 
gives very little aid in solving the problem of his extra- 
ordinary power and tyranny. I have fully stated my 
impressions of his evident great personal ability, and I do 
not know that I have ever asserted him to be an impostor, 
which is a character in which I have only a very faint 
belief. The explanation of such a man is beyond my 
power ; but Mr Harris is not even a unique specimen of 
the class. Particulars have been sent to me since the 
publication of the book, of the histories of at least two 
others professing to possess the same incomprehensible 
power, with results which would be equally remarkable if 
it had happened to them to secure any followers belonging 
to the class of the immortals. People who were, unlike 
Laurence Oliphant, unknown to and unlikely to arrest 
the attention of the world, have gone unnoticed through a 
similar martyrdom to his, at the hands of one spiritual 
tyrant or another, and in England as well as America. It 
is a chapter in the history of religious delusion which 
would afford many extraordinary revelations, should any 
one undertake the task of making it known. 

Since this book was first published, the reign of Mr 
Harris has been expounded and interpreted on all sides : 
some of these explanations have come from his remain- 
ing disciples, whose argument is simply that all things 
he has done are right, that all his motives are pure, that 
Laurence Oliphant having been in the later part of his 
life rebellious to the Master's authority, was righteously, 
he and his wife, swept out of his path, and given over 
to destruction, arguments to which, as I conceive it, 


there is no answer, since those who can put them forth 
are beyond the limits of reason, as ordinarily under- 
stood ; and some from other quarters adding detail upon 
detail to the story of his spiritual despotism. My table is 
covered with American papers in which these details have 
been worked into sensational articles, thrilling with de- 
scriptions of the luxurious seclusion of Fountain Grove, 
where a man who cannot err, and will never die, lives sur- 
rounded with every luxury, while his dependants, who have 
furnished all his revenues, live and toil in a subdued 
humility, working his vineyards, accumulating wealth 
which is not for them, and giving up heart and soul to his 
service. It is not for me to attempt to penetrate that 
retirement. Mr Harris himself has recently spoken from 
it, announcing his discovery, after many researches, of the 
method by which eternal youth and power is attained, and 
by which he, a man of seventy, has been re-endowed with 
all the forces of his prime, and enabled to enter afresh, 
with increased strength, upon the Propaganda which for 
many years he would seem to have practically given up. 
He does not deny, he allows with calmness, that the Oli- 
phants having rebelled against him, he warned them of 
the fatal consequences that must follow, and if he did not 
absolutely execute his own vengeance, permitted it, by the 
unseen powers, to be carried out. That Mr Harris should 
say, and permit his champions to say, such things as these, 
carries the question far beyond anything to which I can 
reply. The elixir of life, the command of death, the right 
of one individual to rule for time and eternity the destinies 
of others these are the questions of a fairy tale, not of 
human argument. My indictment was far more modest 


than his own assertion. I did not mention in my record 
of Laurence Oliphant's concluding years the letter in which 
Harris's last warning and sentence were conveyed, desiring 
myself, as I had not seen it, to believe that the report of 
it might have been exaggerated. Mr Harris himself, 
however, not only admits but asserts that he gave that 
warning, uttered the threat, and that his verdict a sen- 
tence of death was righteously executed. The statement 
seems sufficient for all purposes. If it is true, the Magi- 
cian in California is the most wonderful of human beings : 
but at all events he thus meets every charge brought 
against him boldly, by allowing it, on the ground of his 
own unique and irresistible power. 

February 15, 1892. 


I HAVE, in concluding this book, to thank almost all the 
persons most closely connected with Laurence Oliphant 
for their kind confidence in intrusting me with the nu- 
merous letters which reveal his character so much more 
clearly than anything else can, especially those which 
show the formation of that character, addressed to his 
mother in the early part of his life, which I owe to the 
courtesy of Mrs Eosamond Oliphant, now Mrs James 
Murray Templeton : a courtesy all the more marked that 
I believe she herself intended, or still intends, to make some 
record, though probably from a different point of view, of 
her late husband's life. I have also to render my best 
thanks to Mrs Wynne Finch, the mother of the late Mrs 
Laurence Oliphant; to Mrs Waller, her sister, and to 
Hamon Le Strange, Esq., her brother, for much most in- 
teresting information and a number of important letters. 
Other letters have come to me through Mrs Wynne Finch 
and other channels from Lady Guendolen Eamsden, the 
Hon. F. Leveson Gower, Major Goldsmid, and others, to 
whom my best thanks are also due. I have also most 


grateful thanks to give to Mr and Mrs J. D. Walker, 
formerly of San Eafael, California, for an account of many 
incidents of great value in the record of the two lives ; to 
Mrs Hankin, of Malvern, for the use of her notes of inter- 
course, both by letter and personally ; to Arthur Oliphant, 
Esq. ; and to Lady Grant Duff, in whose house Mr Oli- 
phant died. 

I have one other acknowledgment to make, which in 
happier circumstances would have been said only to the 
private ear of him to whom it is due. A great part of 
the letters quoted here were selected, arranged, and con- 
nected for me by my dear son, Cyril Francis Oliphant, 
whom it pleased God to take to Himself just as the book 
was ended, the last work he did on earth being included 
in these pages. It can never bear to me any other memo- 
rial and inscription than his beloved name. 

December 8, 1890. 





The house of Oliphant The Oliphants of Condie Sir Anthony's 
letter The judge and the officer The Chief- Justice's ideal 
Lowry's expressive eyes Little letters The first tutor The 
first adventures Lowry's education, . . .1 



His unusual education Revolution in Italy At the Bar Life in 
Ceylon Diverse counsellors Letters to his mother Friends in 
India Receiving the natives Young ladies Elephant-hunting 
A unique experience Self-examination All things to all men 
End of the holiday, . . . . . .14 



Voyage to England Letters to his father Social life The Exhibi- 
tion building Letters to his father Work in the slums The 
progress of the law The Scotch Bar His first book Edinburgh 


society The Parliament House His "blackguards" in "West- 
minster A vacation ramble Something to write about Letters 
to his mother A system of self-education Nijni Novgorod 
Worth a journey from England On the Volga End of the first 
stage Across the steppe Russian reports, . . .32 



The ' Russian Shores of the Black Sea ' Preparations for war The 
Eastern question The parents at home A commercial treaty 
American hotels Congress American young ladies The 
struggle of life Champagne A joyous temperament A book 
on America Lord Elgin's method People he meets Success of 
the negotiations " The venerable file " Reception in Canada 
Quebec New appointment Literary plans Religious thoughts 
The Third Person of the Trinity An ungrateful lecture A 
second treaty The demure secretary Politics and society 
Vicissitudes of feeling Winter in Canada His Excellency, . 59 



In suspense Departure for the Crimea Therapia Letter to his 
mother The breath of war Sent to Circassia " Lots of tin "- 
Love of theological discussion "An independent swell " " Did 
not expose himself at all " Made a battery Plunder Camp 
thoughts His conscience never satisfied Again in suspense 
In the Southern States A filibuster Restored to society, 



Religious thoughts Railways in Egypt Lord Elgin at Singapore 
An arrested expedition The light of reason Difficulty about 
prayer No critic Christian faith and Christian practice 


Advancing faith Reflecting the mind of God Unsuited for 
philosophical inquiries A day of humiliation Death The 
germs of future belief A musical Mass The limits of self- 
denial The Jesuits and the missionaries Taking a town 
Japan Occasional gaieties " Worse than a colony " " Setting 
up his reason " Death of his father Impatient merit The 
weakness of the flesh On revolution intent In Turin At Nice 
Appointed Chargt, d'affaires at Yedo Intolerable conditions 
The "happy despatch "The Japanese robber "Trussed like a 
fowl " Alternative withdrawal or fight Bligh's letter Return 
home, ........ 115 



The Prince of Wales In unknown lands English consuls and 
colonists Gives up the diplomatic service The Poles in the 
field The downfall of the Poles Schleswig-Holstein A citizen 
of the world His occupations at home The British Association 
At Greenock "Papa " in Stirling "A walk with the lassies " 
Norman Macleod a trump Mother and son The Stirling 
burghs A new development A little dinner The ' Owl ' 
Ithuriel's spear ' Piccadilly ' The wholly worldly and worldly 
holy, . 158 



Thomas Lake Harris Wrapped in mystery "Live the life 
"A parliamentary failure" The House of Commons Indig- 
nation with life A Reform Bill Mr Harris's sermons A 
divine influx The great decision A new world Life at 
Brocton The kingdom of God on earth The ordeal The 
mother's ordeal Letter to Louis Liesching, Esq. No dogmas 
The presence of Christ His charges against himself The 
Quaker's exposition Life in Christ The assurance of faith A 
fiery ordeal "Orderly marriage" An escapade 'Masollam' 
Two characters in one The prophet Not vulgar magic, . 186 



A farm-labourer" Dollie and the two Smiths " Brocton in London 
The aims of the community 'Piccadilly' and "Dollie" A 
war-correspondent A battle-field A compulsory guest The two 
armies An invasion of England The prophet's signal Paris 
after the war The representative of the 'Times' Alice le 
Strange A child in faith The power of the prophet The 
mystic breath The accident of service Martyr love The 
woman's "word" Yielding to the yoke A different difficulty 
Giving up her own judgment Disposal of her property 
Blind and servile obedience The presence of ' ' Father " The 
social status of women A preliminary sacrifice Marriage A 
revolutionary meeting A fabulous story, ..... 220 



The prophet's life A business man A benevolent patriarch In 
the way A holiday Lady Oliphant to a friend The separation 
begun The separation completed Fallen among thieves Guile- 
less innocence " A Joint-Stock Company " The American girl 
Sheep better than swindlers In California The music-teacher 
A queen of hearts Counterparts "Irene" The Eastern 
project Colonisation of Palestine The promoter The Land of 
Gilead The Dead Sea The Land of Promise The Bosphorus 
Encounters no opposition Turkish opinion Failure A 
moment of trouble Reunion The return of the exile A social 
triumph A happy accident The faith that was in -them The 
mother forsaken Santa Rosa Death of Lady Oliphant A ter- 
rible struggle Doubt and fear Liberation, . . . 262 



" Fresh woods and pastures new "Hand in hand The persecuted 
Jews Turkish opposition Letter to Russian Jews Negotiations 


Domestic letters London slanders Domestic letters Haifa 
Letters from Haifa: Laurence 'Altiora Peto' A religious 
idyl The gospel of daily work A mixed society The slopes 
of Carmel A personal digression Dalieh on Carmel Letters 
from Haifa : Alice Considering the larder Two of the craziest 
fellows ! A new community The Jew settlements The inner 
life The occult world An overruling intelligence Answers to 
questions The power of love ' Sympneumata ' A heavenly 
surprise Not an ordinary book A purifying faith The dis- 
approval of good people The object of life Rest in household 
work Different views of truth A strange contrast Happy 
projects The visit to Galilee On Tiberias Beginning of ill- 
ness The death of Alice Beautiful in death The funeral pro- 
cession The Friedhof, 311 



The consolation of her presence A closer union Taking up his 
burden A new disciple The "influx" A worn mystic A 
brilliant man of the world The soul of conversation A paradox 
Tke mystic side Spiritual companionship Hypnotism The 
' Star in the East ' The cure for the world The Jubilee at Haifa 
The Beth Yehuda colony A petition ' Scientific Religion ' 
begun An ample compensation 'Scientific Religion' com- 
pleted Failure of the "influx" A colleague His second 
marriage The necessities of the situation Hopes of recovery 
The evening light The close of all A joyous sacrifice Their 
climax of existence, ......... 372 

INDEX, 409 








THE subject of this memoir, Laurence Oliphant, was a man 
so unique in himself, so entirely individual and distinct in 
his generation, that it is more than ordinarily unnecessary 
to distinguish him by the mild and modest honours of the 
family of Scotch country gentlemen from which he sprang. 
I may be permitted, however, the natural weakness of some 
brief notice of the race of which he has proved one of the 
most distinguished members, and to which I also belong, 
both by birth on the mother's side and by marriage. The 
fond superstition of ancient race, to which the Scot in all 
his developments is prone, may be accepted as an excuse 
for this unfortunately somewhat vague and not very bril- 
liant passage of history. We have not, I fear, been very 
remarkable as a race. After the first somewhat misty 
heroes of the past, the house appears only in the occa- 
sional mention of a name here and there, when a Lord 
Oliphant witnessed a royal charter, or lent his silent sup- 
port to a protest or revolt of the Scots nobility of his time. 
There is a page in a manuscript of the seventeenth century, 
preserved in the Heralds' College, which sums up their dis- 



positions in words very quaint and graphic, and very satis- 
factory in the point of view of the domestic virtues, but 
not, perhaps, indicative of much greatness. "The Lord 
Oliphant. This baron," says that anonymous authority, 
" is not of great renown, but yet he hath good landes and 
profitable ; a house very loyal to the Kings of Scotland ; 
accounted no orators in theyr wordes nor yet foolish in 
theyr deedes. They do not surmount in theyr alliances, 
but are content with theyr worshipful neighbours." " As 
for the antiquity of the family and sirname," says Nisbet 
in his ' System of Heraldry,' in the chapter which treats 
of "Celestial Figures; the Sun, Moon, and Stars," to 
which the bearings of the family belong, " there was an 
eminent baron of that name who accompanied King 
David I. to the siege of Winchester in England in the 
year 1142, named David de Oliphard ; and the same man 
or another of that name is to be found frequently a wit- 
ness to that king's charters ; and particularly (says Mr 
Crawfurd, in his ' Peerage ') in that to the Priory of Cold- 
ingham, whereto his seal is appended, which has there- 
upon three crescents, which clearly prove him to be the 
ancestor of the noble family of Oliphant, who still bear 
the same figures in their ensign armorial." 

In the Scottish War of Independence, Sir William Oli- 
phant of Aberdalgy, in Forfarshire, the acknowledged head 
of the house, held Stirling Castle against the English ; but 
was not, I fear, quite free of the intrigues of the time, and 
those occasional changes of side which even the great 
Bruce himself, before he settled into his noble career, was 
sometimes betrayed into. His son was, however, rewarded 
for their exertions in the cause of their 'country by the 
hand of Elizabeth Bruce, the king's daughter, who was not 
indeed a legitimate princess but the distinction counted 
for little in those days. A generation or two later, the 
heir of the house acquired some portion of the estate of 
Kellie in Fifeshire, upon which he settled his second son, 
Walter Oliphant, my own ancestor, and the founder, it is 
believed, of the picturesque old house called Kellie Castle, 
in the rural parish of Carnbee, still standing in perfect 
repair, and most admirably restored by its late inmate, 


Professor Lorimer of Edinburgh. The barony was con- 
ferred afterwards upon the head of the house in 1467. It 
was renewed on failure of the direct male line by Charles I. 
in 1657, and became extinct in 1751. In the meantime 
the family threw off many branches, one of the latest of 
which was that of Condie, which bears the three crescents, 
" within a bordure counter compony gules and argent," 
and changed the original crest of a Unicorn's head to that 
of " a Falcon volant," and the old thrifty motto A Tout 
pourvoir, which, I am proud to say, was retained by the 
Kellie branch, into the newer fashion of a Latin proverb, 
Altiora Peto, of which, the reader will remember, the most 
brilliant descendant of the house of Condie made in after 
days a whimsical use. 

I am grieved to say that none of the many branches of 
the house have done anything very remarkable in life. 
The Jacobite Lairds of Gask have supplied an interesting 
volume to Scots family history by means of their present 
representative, Mr Kington Oliphant, whose own achieve- 
ments in philology and cognate subjects are not small; 
and Caroline Oliphant, afterwards Lady Nairne, of the 
same family, was one of the band of women-poets, full of 
the native music and delightful natural sentiment of their 
country, who have left so pleasant and so bright a tradition 
behind them. Perhaps no work of genius ever gained a 
more universal or delightful fame for its author than the 
song, " The Land o' the Leal," written by this accomplished 
woman, has done. Otherwise the record of the name is 
like the shield of Sir Torr void of achievement. The 
house of Condie was no exception to this law: country 
gentlemen, Scots lawyers, a soldier brother now and then, 
have maintained the worthy tradition of one of those plain 
Scotch families, in whose absence of distinction so much 
modest service to their country is implied. Anthony 
Oliphant, a second son of the house, went farther afield 
than to the Parliament House of Edinburgh, and found his 
fortune in the colonies, where he held various dignified 
posts. Sixty years ago he was Attorney-General at the 
Cape, where he married Miss Maria Campbell, the daughter 
of Colonel Campbell of the 72d Highlanders, and his wife, 


a member of the large and important family of Cloete; 
and there, at Cape Town, in the year 1829, Laurence was 
born. He was the only child of a pair both of whom were 
notable in their way : she, full of the vivacity and character 
which descended to her son ; he also a man of much in- 
dividual power and originality, an excellent lawyer and 
trusted official. Both were deeply stamped with the form 
of religious feeling which was most general among pious 
minds at the time. There is no scorn of religion implied 
in the fact that it too has its fashions, which shape in suc- 
cessive waves the generations as they go. This couple 
were evangelical in their sentiments, after the strictest 
fashion of that devout and much-abused form of faith. 
The constant self-examination, the minute and scrupulous 
record of every little backsliding, the horror of those 
gaieties and seductions of the world (much modified, in 
fact, by that considerable share in them which their posi- 
tion made necessary), which were but too agreeable to the 
social instincts of both, is characteristically evident in a 
letter which Sir Anthony, then Chief-Justice of Ceylon, 
addressed to his little son Laurence, ten years old, at that 
time in England with his mother, and whose tender mind 
the parents were so anxious to train into the ways of 
godliness. The glimpse this letter gives of the natural 
man, a little warm of temper, a little rash in ejaculation, 
underneath the cloak of the conscientious Christian, who 
felt that for every idle word he would be called to judgment, 
is, if I may dare to say it, amusing as well as attractive, 
though the intention of the writer is far removed from any 
such thought. It is addressed to his dear little boy, who 
had been very ill, and had just recovered . and written his 
first letter, "very well written and spelt," to his papa. 
This loving and tender papa had been transferred from 
the Cape to Ceylon in the absence of his wife and child in 
England, and describes to his little son his extreme loneli- 
ness in arriving at his new post. 

" COLOMBO, May 31, 1839. 

"After mamma and you went away from the Cape 
to England for mamma's health, mamma asked the 


great people in England to remove me from being 
Attorney-General at the Cape, and to make me Chief- 
Justice at Ceylon, and they consented, and I went to 
Ceylon after mamma had been a year away; and when 
I arrived at Ceylon I heard that my son had been almost 
dead, and that mamma was so ill that it was not likely 
she would ever come out to me, and I became very 
sorry : and I did not see anybody that I have ever 
known before. There was no John Bell, nor Lady 
Catherine, nor General Napier, nor Cecilia, nor John- 
stone, nor Janet, nor the Butlers, nor any other body 
to comfort me or speak about mamma with, nor anybody 
except Mr Selby and George that cared about me. I 
felt very low-spirited and lonely, and like a tree standing 
by itself that has lost all its leaves, and I looked about 
for somebody that I thought would not think it tiresome 
to hear about mamma and you, and as I did not know 
anybody, or what sort of dispositions they had, I was 
obliged to guess by their faces. I saw an officer, who 
was tall and thin like Eobert Baillie of the 72d, and 
I thought that he looked of an affectionate mild dis- 
position, like dear Jimmy Erskine, and Cousin Day, 
and Carolus Graham, who are so fond of us, and that 
he would let me speak to him about my wife and child 
without thinking it tiresome, and that he would let 
me love him and be kind to him like Jimmy and the 
other cousins, although he was no relation. So one 
day I took him a drive into the country with me. I 
had been so long living by myself without having prayers 
every morning at breakfast-time and on Sunday evenings, 
that I had fallen away a great deal from the love 
and fear of God, and God had left me to myself in 
a great measure, because I had neglected His Word 
and become careless. But God had not turned away 
His face altogether, but only hid it, neither had He 
forgotten or forsaken me, because you know it is written, 
'A woman may forget her sucking child, yet will I 
not forget thee, saith the Lord ' ; and also, ' I will never 
leave thee nor forsake thee.' So I had become careless 
in my speech, and used bad words thoughtlessly, that I 


had got into the habit of using when I was a young man 
and frequented gay company, and I spoke foolish things 
for want of something to say." 

This picture, drawn by his own hand, of so important 
a member of society in the busy and prosperous colony, 
the chief law officer of the Crown, casting his eyes 
about with a remnant of the shyness of his Scotch 
youth, to see what face among the new society around 
looked kind enough to be made a confidant of, and who 
there was who would listen to his anxious talk about 
his wife and child without finding it tiresome, is most 
engaging and attractive. All did not go well, however, 
in this first drive. One wonders what the Chief-Justice 
said, with that grave young officer sitting by, whether 
he launched too vigorous an epithet at an unwilling 
horse, or held in a too impetuous one with an objurgation, 
and what were the foolish things to which he gave 
utterance, before he ventured to open his heart as he 
desired, about his pretty young wife, who was far away, 
and little Laurence, who was the light of their eyes. 
The Officer one feels it necessary to put his name 
with a capital, as if he had been in ' Sandford and 
Merton ' made no remark upon his eminent companion's 
freedom of speech; but when the Chief- Justice asked 
him to dinner some time later, declined, on the score 
that "by mixing in society I am acting inconsistently 
with my religious principles." This excuse awoke the 
slumbering conscience of Sir Anthony, who wrote again 
to the young soldier, asking if it was anything in him, 
in his conduct or conversation, which had occasioned 
the refusal, or if it was merely on general principles 
in which latter case he hoped that they might still 
meet, as people of similar minds, in their evening rides 
or drives, and that if the absent wife was ever able 
to join him, she as well as he might have the advantage 
of the pious youth's society. This elicited a letter full 
of feeling from the young soldier, and a warm friendship 
was formed. 

The whole narrative breathes of a time gone by. I 


fear we should be disposed to think the Officer sancti- 
monious and a religious prig in these changed days. But 
the genuine humility and moral sensitiveness of the 
middle-aged lawyer, judge and autocrat in his own sphere, 
is exceedingly touching and beautiful. These are not 
exactly the qualities we look for in a Chief - Justice, 
any more than the shy outlook for a sympathetic face. 
He was so much impressed by the incident altogether 
that he reported it thus at great length to his child, in 
the hope that when his Lowry was as big as the Officer in 
question "he will do exactly as he did." "When I am 
better acquainted with him I shall ask him, that in case 
I should die soon, and he is ever near my son, to go to 
him, and ask him if he ever associates with people from 
whom he can learn anything bad, and to ask him to show 
him this letter, and if he acts upon it. And my Lowry 
must keep this letter which I now write, and read it 
always on his birthday ; and if he is able to draw all the 
morals from it that it contains, and to act as Mr B. did, 
if he never meets Mr B. on earth, he will be happy with 
him in heaven. And I write this for my son's welfare, 
and that mamma may know that there is somebody here 
who will love and take care of papa when she is far 
away." The Chief -Justice of Ceylon is a little confused 
in style, though that arose no doubt from writing down to 
his correspondent of ten; and his appearance here is not 
what we should expect from his imposing position and 
authority : but how delightful is the glimpse of him thus 
afforded ! Chief -justices, after all, are but men ; they 
yearn for wife and child like the humblest individual, 
and are subject to the influence of human approbation or 
disapproval. But few, very few, are those who would 
admit or yield to the tacit reproof of a stranger with such 
a tender conscience and so much humility. I fear his son 
would have been disposed to laugh at the Officer and his 
grave young face. 

The mother and child, thus so far separated from the 
tender and longing head of the house, spent some part of 
their time coming and going at Condie, the ancestral home 
-T " sweet Condie," as little Lowry called it the old 


Scotch mansion-house of which he spoke in after and 
graver years. There is a pretty anecdote of his childhood 
here, which seems to point at even an earlier age than that 
mature ten years which he possessed when his father wrote 
the letter above quoted. Certain ladies of the neighbour- 
hood, coming to call upon the laird's sister-in-law, young 
Mrs Anthony from the Cape, were introduced into the 
drawing-room, where there seemed to be nobody, but where 
the small boy was playing with his box of bricks in a 
corner. Perhaps the visitors did not perceive him ; perhaps 
thought him too young to note what they were saying, 
which was an imprudent confidence. At all events, they 
began to talk of the lady they were waiting to see what 
a pretty young woman she was, and what a pity the child 
should be so plain. At this point they were startled by 
the sudden uplifting of a small voice from the corner. 
"Ah," said the boy, moved, yet philosophically, impartially, 
by the criticism upon himself, " but I have very expres- 
sive eyes." The sense of humour, which never deserted 
him, must thus have shown itself at a very early period. 

There is not very much appearance of it, however, in 
the schoolboy letters which he wrote from Mr Parr's school 
at Durnford Manor, near Salisbury, where he began his 
education. They are amusing sometimes, as every child's 
letters are, with their jumble of subjects and transparent 
innocent self-absorption; but it is happily evident that 
little Lowry, though something of a hothouse plant, 
brought up at his mother's feet, had none of the preco- 
cious development common to children accustomed to the 
constant society of their elders. The little letters are 
often accompanied by a note from the lady of the house, 
apologetic of poor Lowry's carelessness, or his handwriting, 
or the difficulty there was in getting him to write. On 
one occasion he loses his mother's letter before he has 
finished reading it, and begs her in the next to put down 
" some of the most importinate facts " of the lost epistle. 
His style certainly lacks clearness. "All together," he 
says, '' I am third in my class. Graeme, Alfred Montague, 
a queer little beggar, who sends his complemences to you, 
but a nice little chap upon the whole, he was sitting next 


and rubbed it all out, till Mr Waring told him to go away." 
On another occasion he begs his dear mamma to let him 
send his letter on Tuesday, because it is more convenient, 
and because Alfred Montague sends his on Tuesday. He 
counts the weeks till the holidays, yet thinks on the whole 
the time passes very quickly. " We generally have what 
we call larks at night," says the candid little boy. " There 
are two boys that are very passionate, and we like, of 
course, to tease them. We shut them up in the fives- 
court, and they got in such what the boys call a wax, 
which means a rage." " Do excuse my both bad writing, 
and am not inclined for writing," he adds. In another 
Lowry falls a little into the vein of religious retrospection 
in which he has been trained. " You asked me to speak 
to you as I used to do," he says ; " I should tell you some 
more of my besetting sins. One of them is my not saying 
my prayers as I ought, hurrying over them to get up in 
the morning because I am late, and at night because it is 
cold ; another is my hiding what I do naughty and keep- 
ing it from Mr Parr's eyes, not thinking the eye of God 
is upon me, a greater eye than man's ; and another my 
cribing things from other boys, which is another word for 
stealing not exactly stealing, but leads to it." After 
this calm discrimination of morals, he goes on to other 
matters. " I am such a horrid sumer " (sum-er i.e, arith- 
metician), he says, with felicitous vexation ; " it is that 
that gets me down in my class so much. I was perfectly 
beaten last week, for they brought me down from top to 
bottom." There are many people who will feel the deep- 
est sympathy with Lowry in his tribulations as a " horrid 
sumer." " Excuse the blots," he adds ; " but I put it in my 
shelf, and when I came to get it to finish it, and it was out 
on the table but I must now finish, for I am impatient." 
It cannot be said that the writing is much to Lowry's 
credit, and the anxious excuses of his master's wife are 
not without justification. But it is very touching to find 
these little letters so carefully preserved after fifty long 
years, so living in their childish freedom and confusion of 
over-active thought. The little fellow was not clever, so 
far as appeared ; but he was the light of his mother's eyes, 


and already a favourite everywhere, the brightest rest- 
less child, always doing, forming already his succinct little 
opinions upon things and men. 

In 1841, Lady Oliphant who during this interval had 
been spending her time partly in England, partly in Scot- 
land : at the paternal house of Condie, which was paradise 
to Lowry in the holidays ; at Wimbledon, in the house of 
Major Oliphant, 1 another brother of her husband, where 
the boy found comrades and companions of an age similar 
to his own ; and for a considerable period in Edinburgh 
joined Sir Anthony in Ceylon. But it soon became appa- 
rent that to be separated thus from her only child was too 
great a strain upon the happiness and health of the tender 
mother ; and she had not been long settled in the island 
before imperative orders were sent home for the return of 
Lowry, accompanied by a tutor who could carry on his 
education. "Send out the kid at once" was, I have 
been told, the telegraphic summons ; but this must be a 
fond invention of later days, for there was then no tele- 
graph, nor was Sir Anthony at all likely to use such an 
expression. This decision was simplified by the fact that 
there were two boys, the sons of Mr Moydart, a neighbour 
at Colombo, of an age to share his lessons, and afford boy- 
ish company for the Chief -Justice's only child. Laurence, 
who had followed his schoolmaster, Mr Parr, to Preston, 
in Lancashire, where that gentleman had accepted a living, 
was summoned from school in all haste, and the much- 
trusted Uncle James at Wimbledon was charged with the 
choice of the tutor. The gentleman selected by Major 
Oliphant was Mr Gepp, now vicar of Higher Easton, near 
Chelmsford, a very young man just from Oxford, to whom, 
as to his pupil, the long journey overland, then a new 
route, and captivating to the imagination, was a great 
frolic and delight. 

By this time Lowry had developed out of the early stage 
of childhood into an active and lively boy, eager for new 
experiences, and all the novelty and movement that were 
to be had. One bustling delightful visit he had at Condie 

1 Afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel James Oliphant, for many years a 
director of the East India Company, and chairman of that body in 1854. 


to celebrate the marriage of his uncle, where there were 
tenants' dinners and outdoor dances, at which Lowry 
" kissed the lassies " with whom he danced, in delightful 
emulation of another young and gay uncle. He was be- 
tween twelve and thirteen, with all his faculties awake, 
and his whole being agog for novelty and incident, when 
he set out to join his parents in the late winter of 1841. 
He has himself given an account of this, the first great 
journey which he made independently, the first he could 
fully recollect. It is astonishing to note the enormous 
difference between the means of travelling then and now, 
although the modern age of rapid movement had set in, 
and the English world was already exceedingly proud of 
itself for its first steps towards speed and ease in that long 
journey, the most important and momentous of all to 
Englishmen. From Boulogne, " where we arrived in a 
steamer direct from London Bridge " to Marseilles occu- 
pied eight days and five nights of incessant diligence travel, 
varied by the incident of sticking in the snow at Chalons, 
from which they had to be dug out. The mail-train rattles 
across the Continent from Calais to Brindisi now in three 
days. Yet I suspect Laurence and his companion had the 
best of it. Packed up in the banquette of the old-fashioned 
diligence, they saw and enjoyed everything, the new un- 
familiar landscape, the quaint villages, the old towns, the 
winterly brightness of France, newer and more original to 
them than anything is now to eyes so accustomed to dis- 
count every novelty as ours are. And the jolting, dirt, 
and wretchedness of the most highly organised train de 
licxe, with its sleeping-carriages and dining-saloons, one 
more odious than the other, yet the last word of luxurious 
organisation and supposed comfort in travelling are a 
poor exchange for the more leisurely progress, which at 
least permitted a tranquil meal now and then, and unfolded 
the country through which he passed, and many amusing 
and agreeable incidents to the traveller. 

" Adventures," somebody says, " come to the adventur- 
ous," and this first voyage of the boy who had so many 
before him was signalised by a visit, made necessary by an 
accident, to Mocha, a place very little visited either then 


or now by the Giaour, and where the Shereef was exceed- 
ingly civil to the English travellers a civility, I believe, 
explained by the fact that an English gunboat lay not far 
off, though the strangers were unaware of this strong in- 
ducement to politeness on the part of their entertainers. 
The voyage altogether, with the repeated breakdowns of 
the ship and pauses for repairs (there was then no P. & 0.), 
lasted about three months. We are not told to what pitch 
of despairing anxiety the parents in Ceylon had been driven 
by all this delay. But at last it came to an end, and Lowry 
settled down in the new brilliant Eastern world, where 
everything was a wonder, to his lessons with Mr Gepp and 
the Moydart boys, and to that close companionship with 
his mother which occupied so large a portion of his life. 
She was still a young woman " there were but eighteen 
years between us," he used to say ; and though Lady Oli- 
phant loved to be obeyed, yet she had from his infancy 
placed the boy the "Darling," as his father invariably 
calls him, with a little affectionate mockery in a position 
of influence and equality not perhaps very safe for a child, 
but always delightful between these two ; for the quick- 
witted and sharp-sighted boy had always a chivalrous 
tenderness for his mother, even when, as happened some- 
times, he found it necessary to keep her in her proper place. 
I have been told an amusing little illustration of this in 
an incident that happened one morning when, the tutor's 
scheme of work appearing unsatisfactory to Lady Oliphant, 
she came into the schoolroom to announce her desire that 
it should be altered. To do this before the open-eyed and 
all-observant boys was, perhaps, not very judicious, and 
the young preceptor was wounded and vexed. There was 
probably a sirocco, or its equivalent, blowing that uni- 
versal excuse for every fault of temper in warm latitudes 
and a quarrel was imminent, when Lowry rose from his 
books and came to the rescue. " Mamma, this is not the 
right place for you," said the heaven-born diplomat, offer- 
ing her his arm, with the fine manners which no doubt she 
had been at such pains to teach him, and leading her away 
no doubt half amused, half pleased, although half angry, 
with the social skill of the boy. 


An education thus conducted, and subject to all the 
social interruptions of the lively colonial life, where visi- 
tors were continually coming and going, and the house of 
the Chief-Justice a centre of entertainment and pleasant 
friendliness, must have had its drawbacks. But except 
for the short period at Salisbury and Preston when he 
was a little boy, Laurence never was subjected to educa- 
tional discipline of a severe kind. He was one of the 
pupils of Life, educated mainly by what his keen eyes 
saw and his quick ears heard, and his clear understanding 
and lively wit picked up, amid human intercourse of all 
kinds. He was in no way the creation of school or 
college. When, as happens now and then, an education 
so desultory, so little consecutive or steady as his, pro- 
duces a brilliant man or woman, we are apt to think that 
the accidental system must be on the whole the best, and 
education a delusion, like so many other cherished things ; 
but the conclusion is a rash one, and it is perhaps safest 
in this, as in so many other directions, to follow the 
beaten way. I do not think he himself ever regretted 
it, and he had little or none of the traditionary respect for 
university training which is so general. He had a most 
cheerful delightful life, between the gay little capital 
Colombo where he knew everybody, and saw everything 
that occurred, and took his share in entertaining great 
officials, governors and suchlike, on their way to and 
from India, as well as less important crowds, civil and 
military and that home of health, Newera Ellia, among 
the hills, which the Oliphants were among the first to 
make popular. In after days a continual flight of letters, 
daily recording everything that happened, went up to 
that green and wholesome spot from the young man of 
much business in the court at Colombo and elsewhere, to 
his mother ; but in the meantime Lowry accompanied her 
in all her moves, and the strong bond of united life, so 
possible, so perfect, between an intelligent child and a 
woman full of simplicity, notwithstanding her intelligence 
and maturity, grew stronger day by day. 



to - ': * 


IT was not, however, so much the intention of his parents, 
who were fully purposed to complete their son's education 
in the usual way, as accident, which secured to Laurence 
the exemption from ordinary studies and restraints, which 
conduced so much to make him what he was. He had 
been sent home again to the care of a tutor in England, 
about whom I have not been able to obtain any in- 
formation, and was being prepared for the university and 
the ordinary course of a young Englishman's training, 
when his father returned to England from Ceylon with a 
two years' leave of absence the first real holiday which 
probably the hardworking Judge had ever had. " I was 
on the point of going up to Cambridge at the time," says 
Laurence, in his ' Episodes from a Life of Adventure ' ; 
" but when he announced that he intended to travel for 
a couple of years with my mother on the Continent, I 
represented so strongly the superior advantages, from 
an educational point of view, of European travel over 
ordinary scholastic training, and my arguments were so 
urgently backed by my mother, that I found myself, to my 
great delight, transferred from the quiet of a Warwick- 
shire vicarage to the Champs Elysees in Paris ; and, after 
passing the winter there, spent the following year roaming 
over Germany, Switzerland, and the Tyrol." It was in 
the year 1846 that this transformation was effected, and 
the boy turned once for all into the "rolling stone" 
which he continued to be for all the rest of Ms life. 
There could be no more exciting period for a plunge into 
the Continent, which was so entirely new to the little 
party of travellers as novel and strange as if they had 
been rustics newly setting out from their fields notwith- 
standing their acquaintance with the Eastern world and 
places far away. " I often wondered, while thus engaged," 
he continues, " whether I was not more usefully and in- 
structively employed than labouring painfully over the 


differential calculus ; and whether the execrable patois of 
the peasants in the Italian valleys, which I took great 
pains in acquiring, was not likely to be of quite as much 
use to me in after-life as ancient Greek." This is a ques- 
tion which it is never very easy to answer. If it were 
put in another form, and we were to ask whether the 
brilliant and remarkable individuality of Laurence Oli- 
phant were not worth a host of ordinary university men 
trimmed to one pattern, it would be simple enough ; yet 
we may be permitted to believe that the ancient Greek 
and the profounder culture might have saved him and 
the world from some wild dreams of after-life, without 
diminishing the originality and force of his being. These, 
however, are speculations without use ; for no doubt the 
manner of development is all involved in the product, 
and no man can contradict his nature. However, this 
free life and acquaintance in the dawn of individual in- 
telligence with the ways of thinking and life of other 
nations, had doubtless much to do in determining his 

In 1847, the family party, ensconced in the comfortable 
ark used in old days by such leisurely travellers, with its 
varying team of four or six horses, according as it climbed 
or descended the mountain road, passed across the Alps to 
Italy, then seething with a universal fever of revolution. 
There never was such ideal travelling as in this lurching, 
heavy, altogether delightful vehicle, packed in a hundred 
pockets with everything one could want, pausing wherever 
it seemed good to the voyager, and with a long rest in the 
heat of the day at some delightful old town or picturesque 
village. The travellers thus gained a knowledge of the 
country in detail its endless stores of beauty, its ever- 
friendly people, its humble shrines and fortresses, its over- 
flowing life, such as no hurried railway can afford. One 
can travel all over Italy now without hearing a word of 
anything but formal Italian, the language of the books ; no 
need to puzzle what the peasants say, though it is often so 
quaint and witty. But it was otherwise in those days. 
No doubt Lowry occupied the covered banquette, in front, 
from which he could give notice of every new castello or 


change in the prospect. He was seventeen, at the age 
when enjoyment of this kind is unalloyed, and the air 
and movement and constant change are a pure delight. 
And at such a crisis there was much for an intelligent 
boy to see and do. The enthusiasm which was growing 
and swelling through the entire country went to his 
young head, easily touched at all times by the contagion 
of popular excitement. He recounts the " salient fea- 
tures " of this wonderful journey as " indelibly stamped 
upon my memory." 

" I shall never forget joining a roaring mob one evening, 
bent I knew not upon what errand, and getting forced by 
the pressure of the crowd, and my own eagerness, into the 
front rank, just as we reached the Austrian Legation, and 
seeing the ladders passed to the front, and placed against 
the wall, and the arms torn down : then I remember, 
rather from love of excitement than any strong political 
sympathy, taking hold, with hundreds of others, of the 
ropes which were attached to them, and dragging them in 
triumph to the Piazza del Popolo, where a certain Cicero- 
acchio, who was a great tribune of the people in those 
days, and a wood-merchant, had a couple of carts loaded 
with wood standing ready ; and I remember their contents 
being tumultuously upset, and heaped into a pile, and the 
Austrian arms being dragged on the top of them, and a 
lady I think the Princess Pamphili Doria, who was pass- 
ing in a carriage at the time being compelled to descend, 
and being handed a flaming torch, with which she was 
requested to light the bonfire, which blazed up amid the 
frantic demonstrations of delight of a yelling crowd, who 
formed round it a huge ring, joining hands, dancing and 
capering like demons, in all of which I took an active 
part, getting home utterly exhausted, and feeling that some- 
how or other I had deserved well of my country. 

" And I remember upon another occasion being roused 
from my sleep, about one or two in the morning, by the 
murmur of many voices, and looking out of my window 
and seeing a dense crowd moving beneath, and rushing 
into my clothes and joining it for even in those early 
days I had a certain moss-gathering instinct and being 


borne along I knew not whither, and finding myself at last 
one of a shrieking, howling inob, at the doors of the Pro- 
paganda, against which heavy blows were being directed by 
improvised battering-rams; and I remember the doors crash- 
ing in, and the mob crashing after them, to find empty 
cells and deserted corridors, for the monks had sought 
safety in flight. And I remember standing on the steps 
of St Peter's while Pope Pio Nono gave his blessing to 
the volunteers that were leaving for Lombardy to fight 
against the Austrians, and seeing the tears roll down his 
cheeks as I supposed, because he hated so much to have 
to do it. These are events which are calculated to leave a 
lasting impression on the youthful imagination." 

One wonders rather how the excellent judge felt when 
he found his son thus rushing in where full-grown diplo- 
matists feared to tread, compromising himself if anybody 
had as yet minded which side Lowry took even perhaps 
compromising England, had it been known that the young 
abettor of revolution was the son of a distinguished British 
official ; or whether the mother did not suffer agonies of 
anxiety while the crowd rushed by with her boy, as she 
must have known, in the thick of the mischief, whatever 
it was. However, no harm would seem to have come of it, 
unless indeed this first taste of the sweetness of excitement 
and the fire of the multitude in motion awakened the 
latent spark in the mind of one destined to see so much of 
such movement in after-life. 

At the end of this extraordinary "education by con- 
tact," the remarkable substitute for Cambridge which com- 
mended itself to the Oliphant family, Laurence returned 
with his father to Ceylon, where he seems to have been 
considered old enough at nineteen to enter into a quasi- 
public life as the Judge's secretary, and where he very 
soon advanced to the position of a barrister, pleading in 
the supreme courts, and conducting a great deal of very 
serious business. He had been engaged in " twenty-three 
murder cases," he himself tells us, before he had attained 
as many years of age. We find a rapid outline of his life 
at this period in the little notes which he dashed off daily 
from Colombo and other places to his mother at Newera 



Ellia, the hill-station which is to Ceylon what Simla is to 
India: sometimes written from court while the fate of 
some of his murderers hung in the balance, and he cries out 
indignant that had they been but tried by papa or before 
an English jury they would have been safe ; sometimes in 
the moment before dinner, when he is preparing to enter- 
tain, in his mother's place, papa's dinner-party of serious 
officials or distinguished strangers; sometimes from the 
cricket - ground ; sometimes after a ball. Lowry was 
everywhere, in the centre of everything, affectionately 
contemptuous of papa's powers of taking care of himself, 
and laying down the law, in delightful ease of love and 
unquestioned supremacy, to his mother. There is not a 
sentence in those little letters to quote, but they place the 
position before us 'with the most vivid yet playful clear- 
ness. Papa, we may infer, smiled a little sardonically, 
with that sense of amusement in the precautions taken 
for him, which is one of the privileges of a parent ; but 
the mother accepted it all, with pride and confidence 
unbounded in her boy, to whom it is evident, though he 
took such care of everybody, a great deal of freedom was 
permitted. His shooting expeditions, in which he some- 
times ran considerable risk, for the game in Ceylon is 
big and dangerous, were reproduced long afterwards in 
sketches so brilliant and lifelike that it is easy to see 
how he must have thrown himself into those exciting 
moments of life in the jungle though papa was left to 
take care of himself at such periods in the distant assizes 
in different parts of the island, whence his son had escaped 
to more exciting experiences. One does not know whether 
any recollection of this bright-faced lad, with his bound- 
less high spirits and energy, still lingers in Ceylon ; but 
the whole island comes to view in his letters, in rapid 
life-giving touches, a sort of dissolving panorama of a busy 
society in colonial completeness, great and small, with its 
eager interests and the buzz of a hundred little intrigues, 
arrangements, disagreements, all of such absorbing in- 
terest, all so entirely dead and gone. The Governor's 
house at Newera Ellia still bears the name, we believe, 
of the Oliphants, and the island is governed from the spot 


where Laurence's mother waited for her daily courier, and 
saw through Lowry's letters, as in a camera, everything 
that was being done. 

This period of home-dwelling, however, did not last 
very long. In the end of the year 1850, Laurence 
being then twenty-one, an unusual and interesting visitor 
touched at Ceylon on his way from England back to 
India. He was one of the first native envoys ever sent 
from the unknown East, and his appearance had been 
hailed in England with a warmth of curiosity and interest 
which was fresh in these days, when public curiosity had 
not degenerated into the foolish and selfish society fever 
over a novelty, which makes social success nowadays so 
little of a compliment. Jung Bahadour was a revelation 
to the country, which jumped at the idea, not unnatural 
in the then ignorance of Eastern affairs, and always 
delightful, that India was about to accept with enthu- 
siasm the culture and sentiments of the West, and that 
this enlightened and splendid native prince, with his 
blazing diamonds and his advanced views, was but the 
first of a noble harvest of liberal minds and civilising 
measures to come. It is to be supposed that he must 
have produced a similar impression at Ceylon, notwith- 
standing the more complete knowledge and the small 
public faith in "natives" with which a colonial com- 
munity is endowed. At all events, the romance about 
him, the distance and novelty of his unknown country far 
away, and the instinct of the traveller and adventurer 
which was so strong in young Laurence, combined to 
surround the envoy with a halo of attraction. It seems 
wonderful that an only child, so cherished and adored, 
should have been able to persuade his parents to consent 
to such a wild expedition. But they would seem at all 
times to have had the most unbounded confidence in him, 
and conviction that his impulses were not to be restrained, 
nor his conduct made the subject of parental dictation. 

It is very probable that their friends condemned Sir 
Anthony and his wife for their fond submission and con- 
currence in all Lowry's vagaries, as no doubt they cen- 
sured his want of formal education and the irregularity of 


his training. On this particular occasion one of them at 
least seems to have spoken out. " My approval of your 
retaining Lowry in Ceylon was never meant to extend to 
such an excursion as that which he has undertaken to 
Nepaul, which can hardly improve his legal prospects, 
financially or professionally," says one of the most trusted 
counsellors of the family. Another friend, however, highly 
disapproves Lady Oliphant's desire to retain him by her 
side, and especially that she should tell him his father ap- 
proves while she does not, thus raising a feeling of conflict 
in his mind. " Let him alone," this lady says. Thus it 
was evident that there were debates on the question. But 
the young man's wishes carried the day. He left Ceylon 
with his new friend in December 1851. The result of the 
expedition was a book, the first of many vivid sketches of 
adventure, in which, as happened to him in his general 
good luck on more than one occasion, he had an entirely 
new field to explore. What is more important, however, 
for our present purpose, is that it brings us his own account 
of himself in a series of letters, carefully marked by his 
mother's hand No. 1, 2, &c., in which the story of his first 
adventure by himself in the world is told. The little nar- 
rative begins with a sketch of a fellow-passenger in the 
steamer in which he leaves Ceylon, whose character he 
conceives to be something like his own, for which idea it 
is worth while to quote it. 

" He is a pleasant enough fellow as a companion, but 
abominably selfish and a thorough charlatan. His faults 
in the latter respect are something like mine in fact, I 
saw that I might well take warning from him. His inter- 
est was the first thing which he considered, and he was 
rather unscrupulous in making everything subservient to it. 
He toadied me like fun, and thinks I don't see through 
him. But I must not be so dreadfully uncharitable, 
though I could not but be struck by the almost providential 
neighbourhood of a man who seemed myself exaggerated." 

Laurence must have corrected early these faults, like 
the " besetting sin " of " cribing," of which he accuses him- 


self on an earlier occasion. Certainly, self-interest was the 
last thing that his worst enemy could lay to his charge. 

" The Minister " [Jung Bahadour], he adds, " is a glorious 
fellow, and we are great friends. He amused himself all 
day shooting at bottles. I have seen him hit three running 
fastened to the yard-arm ; first hitting the bottle with right 
barrel, and then the neck, which was still hanging, with the 
left. He knows a little English, but his stock is confined 
to making love ' Give me a kiss/ and a few other phrases 
equally short and sweet. We had great fun jumping, but 
I beat his head off, whereat he was much disquieted ; but 
being determined not to be done, he immediately com- 
menced hanging by his heels in ropes in the most fantastic 
way, which I found impossible, not having been, like him, 
shampooed from earliest infancy. Oliphant Sahib being 
considered unpronounceable, I am Lowry Sahib, in return 
for which I call the young colonel (brother of Jung) Fe-fi- 
fo-fum Sahib, that being the nearest approach I can make 
to his name." 

Calcutta the young man found worth coming to see, even 
if he were to go no farther, and was much amused to find 
himself the fashion, and sought after everywhere. " The 
idea of going up to Nepaul with Jung Bahadour on a 
shooting expedition is my passport everywhere, and con- 
stitutes me a lion at once. Mrs Gordon takes a delight in 
introducing me to all the big-wigs. She certainly has a 
great knack of making one feel satisfied with one's self, 
and would spoil the most modest young man. So you 
must not mind my giving myself airs when I come back, 
unless somebody takes me down a peg in Nepaul. If I 
were going to live in Calcutta," he adds, " I should not 
devote myself to seeing and being seen in the way I do 
now ; but for a week I think I ought to see as much of 
men and manners here as possible. I hope you are not 
afraid of the gaiety : it is but for a short time and of no 
very serious nature, and I make a point of being alone a 
good deal in the morning. I hope you will write me a 
letter of good advice as I want it now, and certainly shall 


by the time I shall get it ; and never mind boring me it 
won't at all." Thus it will be seen the boy was still a 
dutiful boy, thinking of his mother's anxieties, and how 
much she feared that balls and other vanities and perpetual 
society would be against his spiritual advantage, notwith- 
standing the independence and freedom of his twenty-one 

The mode of travelling, when at last he started up 
country, was peculiar, but it seems to have been comfort- 
able enough. He and his companion went from Calcutta 
to Benares in " a large coach which only holds two, but in 
which two very good beds can be made up. In this, which 
is very comfortable, Cavanagh and I have been living for 
the last two days, and shall have to do so for four more, 
making it our home both by day and night. Ten coolies 
drag us along a very good road. In the mornings and 
evenings we walk alongside or sit on the coach-box, and if 
we have a lazy team, drive them along in a most barbarous 
way. Papa would be amused at this specimen of Indian 
backwardness, being dragged for nearly five hundred miles 
along a magnificent road in a four-horse coach by men in- 
stead of horses the whole way. It would have delighted 
you, however," he adds, " for the coolies never shy, stumble, 
nor run away, or misbehave in any other way but being 
lazy and importunate." 

On arriving at Benares he found himself in the midst 
of the bustle of preparation for the great hunting-party of 
which everybody was talking. 

"Everybody says I am lucky to get such a chance 
of seeing sport, and fellows are making all sorts of 
interest with him [Jung] to be allowed to come too, 
and I daresay we shall make up a formidable party. 
The Jung is an immense lion among the native princes 
here, who all want to go home. He took up his caste 
(forfeited by his voyage) the day before yesterday, so 
I missed the ceremony; but it only consisted of all 
the party who had gone home (i.e., to England), taking 
a bath in the presence of numbers of spectators. He 
has three hundred men of the Nepaul army down here 


as an escort. There are six hundred elephants waiting 
for us at Sagaulee to beat the Terai, and if they don't 
get something out of the jungle, it's a pity. Look for 
Sagaulee on the map: it is on the Nepaul frontier, 
and we begin our battue from there, going some miles 
into the Nepaul country and coming back to it previous to 
starting for Khatmandhu." 

The account which he gives his mother of the books 
he carried with him to occupy his moments of leisure 
is added. " I think you will approve of the selection, 
Guizot's 'History of English Eevolution,' Bourrienne's 
' Memoirs,' Lord Mahon's ' Life of CondeY a Hindostanee 
dialogue and some of Sir A. Buller's small vols. of 
Paul de Kock, which he has lent me." Let us hope 
Lady Oliphant believed these last to be theological 

"The Jung is as civil and kind to me as ever, and 
I am beginning to say a word or two to him in Hindo- 
stanee now. The house abounds in children, who make 
the most desperate noise in Hindostanee without the 
slightest control. To-night the Jung reviews his troops 
for the benefit of the General, and we are all going to 
see it, as they say it is a curious sight. He showed me 
his dogs to-day, also his falcons, so you may imagine me 
unhooding my bird as in the olden days." 

The final scene of the hunting-party was only reached 
after various other detentions on the road among friends 
who sprang up upon the young man's path everywhere : 
old soldiers who had been at school with papa, younger 
ones who had got their cadetships from Uncle James, 
or who had married somebody's sister in one or other 
category, or who knew Perthshire and all the people 
there, or who had received the hospitality of Lady 
Oliphant at the Cape, those contingencies which seem 
to happen so much more readily in India than anywhere 
else. Laurence makes special note of the young ladies, 
who were generally pretty, and always lively and de- 


lightful, and with whom he felt himself entitled to flirt 
with much vehemence, since a single evening was the 
limit of his intercourse with them. " I have taken to 
making love furiously, as I know I am going away 
immediately," is the unprincipled confession he makes ; 
and he begs his mother not to be afraid of his pro- 
ceedings in this respect, which would seem to have 
been a weakness of hers. It was after a ball, and a 
tender leave-taking at two o'clock in the morning, that 
the young man flung himself into his palanquin and slept 
" far into the following day," while his bearers jogged along, 
carrying him to his destination. 

" We found the Jung encamped in a picturesque spot. 
The scene altogether was very enlivening : four thousand 
men, with elephants, horses, camels, bivouacking in a 
large mango-grove, with our hut pitched near the Jung's, 
who, when we arrived, was out shooting. We soon 
joined him on a gorgeously attired elephant provided 
for our use, and found him on a still more handsomely 
got-up one, his brothers on another. But I must tell 
you about his little bride, who was with him, a pretty 
little girl of thirteen or fourteen, almost as fair as a 
European, and as he calls her 'My beautiful missis.' 
She is the daughter of the Coorg Eajah, and was be- 
trothed to Jung in Benares. He seems very fond of 
her, and kind to her, and she looks very happy. I 
like him more and more. He is so thoroughly Euro- 
pean. To give you an instance of it. One day, while 
calling on him, the Eajah of Bhurtpore was announced, 
so his guard turned out, and the gentleman was received 
by Jung, and led to a couch with due honour, when after 
a complimentary speech on both sides, Jung said to him, 
'Your Highness must excuse me, as I have important 
business with these gentlemen,' pointing to us, therewith 
coolly leading the Eajah with equal state to the door. 
He came back a moment after, laughing and rubbing his 
hands, saying, ' That's the way to get over an interview 
with one of these natives.' Of course he had no business 
whatever with us. He is making his little betrothed shake 


hands, and behave otherwise quite like a European lady, 
and instead of shutting her up, she always goes about with 
him. We march ten miles a-day, starting out at a quick 
march with his troops and band, which is a very large one 
and plays English tunes. The Jung always takes his gun 
with him, and shoots every cockyolly bird he comes across. 
You may imagine, therefore, how much I am enjoying my- 
self. The game consists of quails, hares, and partridges. 
The Jung sends us our dinner, which consists of rice 
boiled with ghee, and eighteen or twenty other condi- 
ments, served in leaves and scented, so that one feels as 
if one were eating greasy smells. We have consequently 
come to the determination of accepting Jung's dinner, but 
of providing ourselves with something edible as well as 
odoriferous. The chutney smells exactly like the young 
colonel ; it is a very nice smell, but one does not like it to 
get further than one's nose. I have found out the philo- 
sophy of travelling. In travelling you are much more 
likely to have excitement of one sort or another than 
leading a humdrum life ; but as happiness consists in an- 
ticipation, all you have to do is continually to anticipate 
excitement and you will always be happy, whereas in the 
other case excitement is so very unlikely that you can't 
work yourself up to the anticipation of it. Then there is 
intense enjoyment in eating even ghee and smells when 
you have gone twenty-four hours without eating anything, 
also in sleeping when you have been two nights awake 
all pleasures to which you are a stranger." 

After this there comes a sudden digression, caused by 
the happy accident of falling into a great picnic party 
which was spending a few days in tents at no great dis- 
tance from the " Jung's " encampment of all the amuse- 
ments of which young Laurence and his companion were 
made free, and which suggests the startling question in 
his next letter, " How would you like a Eoman Catholic 
daughter-in-law ? " I have already said that young ladies 
were much in the thoughts of this traveller of twenty-one, 
and he had already intimated with much delight that he 
alone could " polk " of the assembled party, and therefore 


had it all his own way. He enlarges for a page of this 
letter upon the particular lady in question, who was not 
only very pretty but very sensible, clever, and lady-like, 
and would not be flirted with at any price, which, adds 
this experienced youth, " made it so dangerous. I began 
by trying for fun to cut out two fellows who were rivals, 
and I succeeded so triumphantly that it became nearly 
earnest, to the disgust of one, who cut me dead at last ; 
but we made it up when we killed the tiger yesterday. If 
you knew how much I am envied you would excuse my 
conceit, which is becoming unbearable." It is perhaps the 
reaction from this delightful sensation of triumph that 
makes him a little discontented with his real host, the 
Jung, when he rejoins the camp. 

" The Jung has not behaved well to us in the shooting 
line, and we are rather cool with him on that account. 
He makes arrangements for us to go out with him, but 
being a very jealous sportsman, has contrived twice to 
give us the slip with his elephants," which leads the young 
men to the resolution of setting off on horseback by 
themselves to Khatmandhu and abandoning the party. 
" Travelling in India," Laurence adds, " is totally differ- 
ent from travelling in any other country. The comfort 
and pleasure of being made at home in a nice house with 
nice people, instead of going to an inn, is not to be told. 
By so doing one is perpetually thrown with new people, 
who have to be learnt as is also the knack of making 
yourself agreeable in the shortest possible time. There 
are certain hobbies and subjects which every one has in 
India, and in which I am becoming perfect, having of 
course no particular opinion on them myself, 'but what 
master likes.' Then the change of climate and scene puts 
one in good health and spirits, and the numerous little 
trials of temper that one undergoes tend to make one a 
philosopher. I rarely get further than looking a little 
sulky now and then at a man whose neck I should like 
to wring slowly. The Nepaulese are excessively stupid, 
and horribly good-humoured, so I can't do anything else 
with them ; but the Hindostanees are sulky and alive to 


ridicule, so I get on very well with bullying them jo- 
cosely. . . . The next best thing to having repose of 
mind is looking as if you had it, and I often wish I had 
a pleasant expression of countenance in my pocket, which 
I could fasten on my face when wanted." 

This letter which is tinged with a certain shade of 
discontent, with an " I am not so full of the young lady " 
at the end after a few days' interval is however re- 
opened in great excitement to narrate " the most magnifi- 
cent day's sport I ever had in my life." 

" We started early this morning elephant-catching, but 
did not come up with the herd till two o'clock. I insisted 
upon going, much against the Minister's [Jung's] wish, 
who said it was impossible for me to do it: however, 
saying he was no longer responsible, he gave me an ele- 
phant on which was nothing but a sack of straw lashed 
firmly on, with a loop of rope to hold', by. Taking off cap 
and shoes, I was told to stick to this through thick and 
thin, throwing myself off the elephant when passing under 
branches, and holding on with my hands to swing myself 
on him again. Two regiments with a lot of elephants 
had been sent to beat the jungle; and when the herd 
appeared, about a hundred more, on one of which I was, 
started in full pursuit. Besides holding on, I had to 
thrash the elephant with a spiked piece of wood : you 
may imagine it was no joke, seeing a bough before you 
which grazed your hands and arms passing, not six inches 
above the elephant's back, the mahout doing likewise. It 
was certainly the most violent exertion I ever underwent, 
and once the elephant came down a tremendous trip on 
his nose, which nearly dislocated every bone in my body. 
On we rushed, regardless of everything. A pack of a 
hundred elephants in full cry is a curious sight, with two 
nearly naked men on each, swaying about like bolsters, 
now on one side, now on the other, or slipping down to 
the root of the tail and holding on by the crupper. We 
got two (wild) elephants separated, and followed them 
close, when suddenly I was enveloped in smoke, and very 


much astonished by a dozen or more guns let off in my 
face. The elephants had doubled back, and this was a 
salvo from a lot of soldiers hidden in the grass, who im- 
mediately afterwards threw away their guns and made for 
the trees. But the elephants were so bewildered by the 
smoke and hot pursuit, that they kept on until they 
thought it time to turn and charge, which they did, but 
took nothing by their motion, our elephants standing like 
rocks, while the others were belabouring their sides and 
backs with their trunks. Finding there was no help for 
it, they tried to bolt ; but that was not so easy, each of 
them, in the meantime, having had two nooses thrown 
round their necks, which four elephants were all pulling 
different ways. They were two mothers with two little 
ones, and the poor little things got dreadfully jostled, 
and roared vehemently upon being separated from their 
mothers. I am the only European that has ever attempted 
to follow, and Sir Henry Lawrence is the only one that 
has even seen anything of one from a distance, and the 
Jung says that was nothing to this. He would call me a 
brick if he had a Nepaulese word for it. You need not 
be afraid of my going out again ; there is not the slightest 
chance of it, as we leave the elephant country the first 
thing in the morning." 


After this high point of excitement the narrative drops to 
lower levels. At Khatmandhu, when the travellers reached 
it at last, things were not so well with the Jung as had 
been hoped, and Laurence and his companion, though 
with much reluctance, released him from a promise he 
had made to allow them to explore the country a privi- 
lege never yet granted to any European, and likely to do 
the Minister harm if he permitted it. " He finds his 
position here anything but satisfactory ; the Durbar look 
suspiciously upon him, as being a friend of England, an 
idea which many little circumstances have tended to con- 
firm ; so the Jung's head is not likely to remain long on 
his shoulders, notwithstanding the cool way he orders 
everybody about, from the king downwards. This we 
remarked at Durbar yesterday, when he had his most 


devoted followers close behind his chair with double- 
barrelled rifles (loaded), while the men he was afraid of 
were just in front of him." The excitement of the jour- 
ney was thus cut short, as well as the young travellers' 
hopes of exploring an altogether new country, and having 
really something worth writing about. Nothing remained 
for it, accordingly, but to push on along the beaten ways, 
and join Lord Grosvenor's party, which had been circling 
Laurence's line of voyage for some time without ever 
coming to an encounter. It is needless to follow him in 
his detailed journeys, or even in the mixture of diffidence 
and self-confidence with which he drives up " with a car- 
riage full of luggage " to the house of a stranger to whom 
he has no tie except a letter of introduction in his pocket, 
thinking it " an unparalleled piece of impudence," yet con- 
soled by the thought that " it is the custom in India " : 
no need to say that he is always received with open arms. 
There are, however, some bits of more serious thought 
in these letters, and occasionally scraps of self-analysis, 
called forth evidently by the pious mother's questions 
anent her boy's spiritual state. It is difficult, he says, to 
practise habits of self-examination riding upon an elephant, 
with a companion who is always talking or singing within 
a few feet ; but it is otherwise in a palkee, which " is cer- 
tainly a dull means of conveyance," but " forces one into 
one's self more than anything." The result of Laurence's 
self-ponderings is, that he discerns his great weakness 
to be " flexibility of conscience, joined to a power of adapt- 
ing myself to the society into which I may happen to be 

" It originated, I think, in a wish to be civil to every- 
body, and a regard for people's feelings, and has degener- 
ated into a selfish habit of being agreeable to them, simply 
to suit my own convenience. I think I can be firm enough 
when I have an object to gain, and have not even the 
excuse of being so easily led as I used to think. I am 
only led when it is to pay, which is a most sordid motive 
in fact, the more I see of my own character, the more 
despicable it appears, a being so deeply hypocritical that 


I can hardly trust myself; hence arose a disinclination 
ever to speak about myself. How blind one is to one's 
own interest not to see that, putting it on one's own 
ground, it would pay much better to be an upright God- 
fearing man than anything else ! Fortunately religion is 
a thing that one cannot acquire from such a motive, or I 
am sure I should have done so before this." 

No doubt that their son should make such a confession, 
or any confession breathing of self-dissatisfaction, would 
be agreeable to the parents to the Judge, who had spoken 
naughty words and been so sorry for them, and to the 
anxious religious mother, always longing after his spiritual 
advantage. But perhaps Laurence felt that he had been 
a little hard upon himself. He ends by hoping " there is 
no humbug in it. It is honest as far as I know, but don't 
believe in it implicitly," he says; while in another letter 
he shows himself disposed to defend the " flexibility " of 
which he had just accused his own character and con- 
science. He is aware of "having Ferentcz's [an uncle] 
knack of making myself agreeable," but thinks it is to a 
great extent without any harm in it. 

"If an old general likes to hear himself speak, why 
should you not look interested, however bored you may 
feel ? why should you not take an interest in poor Mrs 
So-and-so, who has gone wrong, or been beaten by her 
husband, if Mrs General does ? I got a tiffin out of an 
old couple at Benares simply in that way, and C. says, 
' Why, I never saw such a fellow as you, Oliphant ; you 
are a favourite everywhere immediately.' I do not give 
myself any credit for it, mind ; on the contrary, nothing 
is easier, and I inherit it from your side of the house evi- 
dently. But the tendency I see to be bad in fact." 

One may perhaps be inclined to wish that this tendency, 
to be agreeable and sympathetic, and to look interested 
even when you are bored, were a little more general ; but 
it is curious to find that a man, specially distinguished for 
taking his own independent way in life, and that a most 


individual, not to say eccentric, one, should have been 
alarmed by his own early inclination to be all things to 
all men a delightful faculty, however, which he retained, 
in the midst of a life more unfettered by other people's 
opinions or by any conventional rule than almost any 
other of his generation, to the very end. 

There is nothing more charming in these youthful letters 
than the cordial and genuine response of this spoiled child 
to the affection lavished upon him. His mother's advices 
are not only received well, but asked for with a sincerity 
that cannot be doubted a very unusual trait in a young 
man of twenty-one ; and the chance references to his father, 
still papa to the home-loving young adventurer, are always 
delightful. Had papa but been there, he and Lowry would 
have waited for no escort, feared no harm, but set off 
lightly on foot through the prohibited Nepaul. There is 
no such travelling companion, the young man says, as 
papa. The men of his own age are as nice fellows as can 
be, whom he delights to emulate in every bodily exercise, 
to win a genial triumph over either in the elephant-hunt 
or the new polka, making a friendship for life even out of 
a ball-room rivalry ; but, after all, there is nobody like his 
father for real companionship. Nor is there anybody so 
acute as the Judge in appreciation of character, a power 
of which so many people are destitute, but which Lowry 
modestly concludes he has himself inherited, as he has in- 
herited the knack of pleasing people from his mother's side 
of the house. His eagerness to get home, to have post- 
horses ordered for him on the Kandy road, to lose not a 
moment in reaching his mother's side, shows how little the 
adoration of that home had spoiled him. Thus ended the 
young man's first essay of independent life, a sufficiently 
wild flight to be the first, and a most characteristic one. 
He had been filling the position of private secretary to his 
father since the return of the family from Europe three 
years before, at, he somewhere says, the exceedingly liberal 
salary of 400 a-year. And it was on his savings that he 
accomplished the rapid and brilliant rush through India 
which was the beginning both of his life of adventure and 
of his literary career. 

32 THE BAR. 



IT was perhaps scarcely possible that after such a taste 
of freedom, and of the social life for which he was so 
admirably constituted, the young man should settle down 
again at Ceylon to his irregular bar practice and existence 
of official routine. He had already felt the difficulty of 
being called upon to plead " before papa," which lessened 
his sphere, and he was also aware that his knowledge of 
law was imperfect for one who intended to adopt that 
profession (which, besides, he hated). Accordingly but a 
few months elapsed before his mind was finally made up 
to quit Ceylon, and try his fortune in the greater world. 
The time was approaching at which Sir Anthony would 
be able to resign his appointment, and retire from public 
work, and it was decided that Lady Oliphant should 
accompany her son home, en attendant the happy period 
fixed for the Judge's retirement ; for it was evidently felt 
to be inexpedient that Laurence should lose any more 
time in qualifying himself for the more serious work of 
life. Perhaps some parental, or rather maternal, anxiety 
about the health of the beloved boy had been alleged to 
friends as a reason for this step, for I find a letter to Sir 
Anthony from a friend in Gibraltar who goes out to the 
steamer to greet the travellers in passing, and who an- 
nounces that "Lowry looked anything but delicate. I 
should judge him a great, stout, eleven-stone fellow, able 
to give me a thoroughly good thrashing on an emergency." 
Stout, in the sense which the word generally bears, he 
never was, but well knit, active, and muscular, with that 
promptitude of eye and observation which are the most 
admirable of additions to strength and courage. His own 
letters to his father left behind in Ceylon are admirable, 
full of playfulness and graphic description, a little more 
free and less serious than those to his mother, dashed off 
with a flying pen, and full at first of all the humours of 
the little sea -society on board ship, which always lend 


themselves to the remarks of the social critic. The 
mother and son arrived in England in the end of October 
1851, finding the gloomy sea in the Channel " easily 
recognisable from its John Bull appearance," and already 
"luxuriating in English fog and damp." Although he 
knew very little of his own country, London was full of 
friends, and before he had been more than a month or 
two in England, he had resumed a hundred old friend- 
ships and made as many new ones, among his father's 
old companions and the men of his own generation. He 
decided to enter at Lincoln's Inn, where various people 
assured him he might be called to the Bar very speedily 
in consideration of his previous studies and practical ex- 
perience in Ceylon. In those days it was not a matter of 
strict examination as it is now, and to have read for a 
year with a barrister was sufficient qualification. Cer- 
tainly Laurence, with his social tastes and the habit of 
succeeding without severe preliminary labour, was the 
last man in the world for the ordeal of examinations, to 
which probably he would not have submitted, and cer- 
tainly would not have "crammed" for. There is not 
much evidence indeed from first to last that he was 
greatly in earnest about this study. " I think," he says, 
" if I get up the two or three books necessary for acquir- 
ing a proper knowledge of mercantile law, including bills 
of exchange, together with the law of evidence, pleading 
and real property may take care of themselves." The be- 
ginning of that other most curious but most wonderful 
branch of legal study, which consists of eating dinners, is 
however more amusing. He describes it to his father in 
an early letter, so that it is evident he had lost no time in 
entering upon this severe portion of his education. 

" LONDON, Nov. 24, 1851. 

" I have eaten some stringy boiled beef at Lincoln's Inn 
Hall in company with three hundred others, not one soul 
of whom I had ever seen before; but I unhesitatingly 
talked to my next neighbour, and soon, by dropping in 
an unconcerned manner remarks upon a tiger I knocked 
over here, and a man I defended for murder there, talk* 


34 THE BAK. 

ing learnedly about Ceylon affairs, &c., &c., incited the 
curiosity of those whose reserve would not otherwise have 
allowed them to notice me, too much to let them remain 
silent. Still I felt rather verdant on first entering, and 
was only saved from sitting down at the table appro- 
priated to barristers by hearing one man remark he was 
not going to sit there, as So-and-so was his senior ; so I 
concluded that if he was his senior he was most certainly 
mine, and choosing the youngest-looking man I could find, 
I seated myself next him." 

The mother and son began their life in England in a 
cottage at East Sheen, lent to them by one of their many 
friends, where they immediately found themselves much 
at home among a number of agreeable neighbours, in- 
cluding the family of Sir Henry Taylor, the author of 
' Philip van Artevelde/ whom Laurence describes as the 
" idol of the whole neighbourhood, made love to by the 
entire female portion of thg community." But a young 
man with dinners to eat in Lincoln's Inn, and many other 
engagements on hand, soon discovered that to be so far 
out of town was inconvenient, and indeed impossible. It 
is with great gravity and conviction that he states his 
preference for England, meaning London, a little later. 

"The longer I stay in England, the more I see how 
necessary a residence here is for a young man, who is 
utterly unconscious of his own ignorance in a colony, and 
comforts himself by knowing as much as his neighbours, 
which is no very difficult matter. It will require no 
common inducement to make rne ever return to Ceylon. 
Life is not long enough to waste the best part of it by 
living away from all the advantages which civilisation 
affords, to break up all the ties one may have formed and 
which can never be reunited, to be destitute as well of the 
means of improvement as of common information upon 
everyday topics." 

The record, however, does not long continue in this high 
tone, and though Laurence always retained a high opinion 


of the uses of education obtained in the way of social inter- 
course, he falls lightly into his natural style as his story 
flows from one dinner-party and festive gathering to an- 
other. The progress of the young man, as yet wise enough 
to listen more than talk, with his lively eyes wide open, 
and his mind weighing every novelty and taking in every 
information, is delightful to follow. On one occasion he 
says : " The conversation, from the beginning of the dinner 
to the end (there being sixteen or eighteen people), was 
exclusively confined to speculations upon the future Min- 
isters and Lord Derby's policy; indeed I have heard so 
much discussion upon politics in general, and the capacities 
of various men in particular, that I'll trouble you rather ! 
and the best thing Lord Derby can do is to recommend 
the Queen to send for me if she wants advice." 

In spring, as in duty bound, Laurence paid his respects 
to her Majesty, whom he found himself so well qualified 
to advise. " I have had the honour," he says, " of pressing 
my lips upon the fingers of royalty. I went through the 
ordeal with considerable fortitude, following Sir George 
Pollock. I found nearly everybody was in uniform ; the 
few who were in civil costume looked like servants of the 
royal household. The Queen looked me in the face much 
harder than I expected, and I returned the gaze with such 
a will that I forgot to kneel, ultimately nearly going down 
on both knees, after which, finding the backing-out process 
rather irksome, I fairly turned tail and bolted." 

It is unnecessary to enter into the politics which he 
touches so lightly ; nor had he as yet any personal con- 
nection with them to justify a plunge into that whirlpool 
of which the older reader will remember the agitations. 
The period is already too old for contemporary interest, 
too recent for history. It was the end of a long period of 
peace; so long, that notwithstanding the convulsions of 
1848 upon the Continent, many optimists were still capable 
of holding the opinion that the reign of war was over, and 
that under no circumstances could tranquil England bind 
on her disused armour or draw her rusty sword again. 
The following note upon the closing of the Great Exhibi- 
tion of 1851 the first step in the new emulation of arts 

36 THE BAH. 

and crafts and national intercourse, which was to supplant 
and make warfare impossible, as was fondly supposed 
carries us back pleasantly to one of the happier fancies of 
the time. The great fairy palace, as it was called, in Hyde 
Park, the temple of glass and iron, which took the public 
imagination by storm, was still standing, though stripped 
of its riches, and there was a great movement in favour of 
retaining it where it had been planted. It is to be sup- 
posed that public taste has improved since that time, for 
the idea of such a construction permanently established 
in the midst of the trees of Hyde Park is calculated to 
produce a shuddering horror in most minds nowadays ; 
but that this was by no means the sentiment of the time 
is very clear. Laurence, indeed, was no authority then or 
ever from an art point of view ; but he expressed a feeling 
which was very strong in the London of his day when he 
pronounced energetically for its preservation. Its aspect, 
he thought, even when despoiled of all its previous at- 
tractions, ought to be well noted before any proposal was 
entertained for its removal. " The miscellaneous crowd 
ragged artisans out of work, with Hyde Park dandies, 
Belgrave Square children playing with those from St 
Giles', and an orange-woman suckling her child next to a 
gorgeous matron who looked like a duchess would be 
more influential than any number of petitions. It is a 
mixture of romping, sedateness, and quiet enjoyment." 

The mixture of the grave and gay in these delightful 
letters cannot be better shown than by the extracts that 
follow, which give at the same time an admirable picture 
of all the mingled experiences and aspirations of the youth, 
half-boy, half -man, at the outset of his life. The first is 
all gaiety, the repetition evidently of a familiar subject of 
banter between the genial father and son. 

Laurence complains, April 23. 1852 : 

" I can't find a single lassie that looks the least as if she 
would do for a wife, and the article seems so rare that 
when it presents itself I shall feel bound to snap it up at 
once for fear of losing it for ever ; so beware of hearing 
unexpectedly of a daughter-in-law. I have been industri- 


ous enough to read law until half-past ten at Charles's 
[Pollock's now Baron Pollock] chambers one night, but 
I should apply myself with much more of a will if I was 
sure of getting business after being called. If I was to go 
to the Scotch bar, and you were to be made sheriff of some 
county, we might shake on very comfortably with a farm 
to amuse you and a railway near." 

A little later there follows a pleasant and amusing 
account of the manner in which he spends a day, charac- 
teristically brought in by way of showing the worthless- 
ness of the excuse of business,which he has just given as 
his reason for not having written to his father. " Tom," 
it may be explained, was an old and much beloved friend, 
Dr Clark, once surgeon in the *72d Highlanders, and 
throughout his life devoted to them, who shared their 
rooms with Lady Oliphant and her son. 

" My day now is somewhat as follows : I am up at 
half-past seven to imbue my mother with Foster's sound 
sense, which I do until half-past eight. At nine we 
breakfast viz., Tom and I my mother maintaining, 
in spite of a severe system of bullying kept up by 
Tom, her ground, or rather her room, where she break- 
fasts. Tom and I talk politics all breakfast-time, our 
different views affording ample matter for discussion, 
the idea of a Cobden and Bright Ministry always driving 
him frantic. I am then in a proper trim for the Debates, 
which I read while digesting, and then start for chambers, 
picking up Paul on the way, and talking about boat- 
building and fast men all the way to chambers, when 
I begin to read now on bills of exchange, varying 
it with abstracting pleadings, for which, being in the 
Marshalls' chambers, I am particularly handy. At half- 
past one I go into Groom's and have 'coffee, brown 
bread and butter,' in a loud nasal twang. Then say, 
'"Punch" after you, sir,' to any man who has got 
that or any other paper I may want, pay fivepence, 
and go back to chambers. Walk home with Charles 
at half-past four discussing law, theology, or politics. 

38 THE BAE. 

Then pay a visit or two, now that tire evenings are 
long, and then most probably home to dress and dine 
out, and go to a party afterwards, or Eoyal Institution 
lectures, or debating society, or opera ' according.' Now, 
I might write to you instead of reading Foster or the 
Debates, or paying visits ; so, as I said, want of time is 
no excuse." 

The Foster above referred to is John Foster the essayist, 
a Nonconformist writer of considerable ability, whose 
high reputation has suffered some diminution in the course 
of time. 

The political sentiments of a young man brought up 
as Laurence Oliphant had been were naturally somewhat 
vague when, fresh from his little colonial world, he sud- 
denly plunged into London ; and his first exposition of his 
views, as made to his father, are more -sentimental than 

" I have become a friend of the people, think that if 
they are only trusted they will show themselves worthy 
of the confidence reposed, that nobody has a right to 
bully them or pull the Crystal Palace down if they 
wish it to stay up, and that education and kindness, so 
far from making Chartists, would make loyal subjects." 

This sympathetic feeling developed in his youthful 
breast in attempts to help and serve those lowest classes 
in London, who call forth so many enthusiasms and 
generous efforts, with so little apparent result. His 
benevolent -work began by an expedition made into the 
slums of Westminster in company with Lady Troubridge 
and a missionary. 

" Not altogether pleasant," he says, " addressing a group 
of thieves in Old Pye Street. Lady T. seemed to think 
it quite natural, so I could not well help myself, and 
insinuated to the least brutal - looking of them that a 
meeting was going to be held in the next street which 
they might find interesting, upon which he laughed and 


asked ' Jim ' if he heard that ; upon which Jim said that 
he did, and that he had other meetings to attend rather 
more to his taste than that, he'd be sworn to, ' not reflectin' 
noways on you, sir.' Whereupon, after a little chaffing 
among themselves, they decided it warn't the sort of thing 
that would suit them, ' no offence to you, ye know, sir ' ; 
and one man did me the honour to say that he'd no doubt 
I meant well. So I went unsuccessfully to the meeting, 
where I found congregated fifty or sixty fellows who had 
come in from curiosity, none of whom, to all appearance, 
had ever been in a church in their lives, and who either 
stared vacantly or chaffed and made jokes, while here 
and there a little sparring-match went on." 

This first attempt, in which the lively youth found 
perhaps more amusement than was consistent with the 
desperate character of the enterprise, would not seem 
to have been very successful. The service, as he reports 
it, was conducted with difficulty. A hymn was sung, 
rather to the amazement of the roughs, and the small 
congregation was addressed by the missionaries ; but 
as this was done not "very judiciously, they soon got 

" Some boys began to fight, and had to be lugged out 
by their legs and arms, creating a great sensation. Some 
of the men seemed attentive, however, while others made 
jokes, and the boys who had been turned out began 
throwing stones against the windows ; so that by the 
time we got to the next hymn there was a considerable 
row, which increased as we began it, as everybody began 
to sing at the top of their voices a variety of airs, amid 
occasional bursts of laughter. When service was over, 
some promised to come back, while others went away 
amused ; but all through there was no absolute incivility 
shown, which, considering the men, was a great deal to 

He had scarcely thus got himself in train, however, 
laying out his work, his gaieties, and his attempts at 

40 THE BAR. 

missionary exertion in the way specially favoured at the 
time, when weariness stole upon him, and dissatisfaction. 
He discovered that the constant dissipation of a London 
season is absolutely incompatible with any sufficient 
amount of legal or any other work. " Gallops in the 
Park," he says, "when too frequent, rather prevent the 
proper progress of the law " ; and his many other engage- 
ments and interests could scarcely fail to bear the same 
tendency. The length of time required for the training 
necessary for the English Bar also began to discourage 
him, and the hope of more ready admittance and better 
prospects in the North seemed to afford an attractive 
alternative. He thus announces his changed intention in 
this respect : 

" LONDON, June 7, 1852. 

" Thinking it nonsense not looking for myself into the 
prospects of the Scotch Bar, and as it was impossible to 
do so satisfactorily without going there, I took a run up in 
the steamer with Aunt Sophy, who happened to be making 
the move at the time, and remained just thirty-three hours 
with Anthony Murray, which I employed looking over the 
courts and into the faces of the barristers, and thought 
that they did not express the brieflessness of English 
lawyers a suspicion that was confirmed upon my con- 
ferring with Eobert Oliphant, who said the Scotch Bar 
never afforded such prospects of advancement as at this 
moment. Anthony Murray said the same, and the result 
was that I determined to come to the Scotch Bar as 
speedily as possible- to effect which a Civil Law exam- 
ination is required ; and as attendance of classes is not 
necessary, I am at this moment cramming Justinian with 
a view to passing on the 3d of next month, as they said 
that though a year's study was the usual thing, if I chose 
to stand the trial and could pass it, they did not care for 
anything else. I have exactly one month to prepare ; but 
it is worth making the spurt, as it will be such a saving 
of time. Exactly one year hence I shall pass, I hope, in 
Scots Law, and be a practising advocate in Edinburgh 
Ipng before my terms at this hopeless Bar will be com- 


pleted. The prizes there do not seem so far out of one's 
reach, and I have every intention of going in for every- 
thing which I could never screw up my courage to do 

He was, however, at the same time fully resolved to 
keep up his terms at the English Bar in spite of his 
Scotch practice, and retain the valuable connections he 
had formed there. 

In the meantime the little book, chiefly composed of 
extracts from his diary, about Nepaul, had been put 
together and prepared for the press though nothing is 
said about it in the letters until its appearance is re- 
corded. The book was ready in the early spring of 1852, 
and confided to " Uncle Tom " for revision. This was Mr 
Thomas Oliphant, the youngest brother of Sir Anthony, 
well known in connection with music, and the author of 
some popular songs. There is no information as to this 
gentleman's literary gifts ; but in those days no one was 
aware, himself least of all, that young Laurence was to be 
one of the most popular writers of his time, and his 
anxious mother thought it a great matter that the boy's 
book should be looked over and licked into shape by a 
more experienced hand. " I have handed over your 
manuscript to Mr Murray," says the uncle, " after having 
carefully gone through it and made such alterations as 
will in many cases cause it to read better. The mere 
unpremeditated language of a diary won't do for appearing 
in print. It gives a flippant character to the style of the 
narrative, and is apt to weary the reader. With such 
further alterations as I have no doubt Mr Murray's reader 
will think it necessary to make, the book will be very 
interesting, and likely to do you credit." " I send you the 
above," writes Lady Oliphant to her husband in great 
satisfaction, "hoping it will please you to see your 
brother's opinion of Lowry's book." Whether Lowry 
himself was equally pleased with the prospect of being 
subjected to the alterations of " Mr Murray's reader " does 
not appear ; but he shows no such vanity about his first 
appearance in print as is general with young authors^ 

42 THE BAR. 

regarding it, so far as can be seen, from a most business- 
like and practical point of view. He sent out to his 
father, apparently for the use of Ceylon, fifty copies, and 
his report of his first venture is made in the most 
moderate terms, and without any of the usual excitement 
of young authorship. 

" I shall send my book by the Queen of the South," he 
says. " Two thousand copies have already (ten days) been 
sold out of the three thousand which formed the first 
edition, and I have had long and favourable notices in 
the ' Athenseum,' ' Economist,' ' Examiner,' and ' Literary 
Gazette,' in which papers look (date about last week in 
May). It seems to give very general satisfaction, and I 
hope to have another edition out in a month or two." 

This is all that the young writer says about his first 
performance. It was published in a cheap form, and 
brought him, I believe, very little profit, though some 

In the middle of the summer of 1852 he had taken up 
his quarters in Edinburgh, and was in full progress of study 
and equally high spirits, " cramming " for the examination, 
which was to take place on the 3d of the ensuing month, 
with great hopes of success. His preliminary steps are 

" I have been introduced to all my examiners, and have 
buttered them properly, and they look good-natured enough. 
Robert Oliphant has been overwhelming me with kindness 
introducing me right and left, propitiating my exam- 
iners, and puffing me splendidly as a colonial lawyer, a 
young author, and altogether an interesting young person- 
age, that it would be folly to pluck for the want of a little 
smattering of Latin." 

His future companions are described with similar light- 
hearted satisfaction. 

" The more I see of this Bar, the more I prefer it to 
England it is so much more snug and sociable ; and 
though there is a considerable sprinkling of snobs, yet 
there are some gentlemen, and they shine out all the more 
conspicuously, and indeed get more business on that 
account. It is evidently the correct thing to be a high 


Tory here, so remember I won't pledge myself to any 

The next event in his life was the success of his Civil 
Law examination. 

" The examiners were evidently in a much greater fright 
of puzzling themselves than anything else, and in the Civil 
Law they skimmed the surface in very safe questions : 
decidedly the most trying part was the walking in before 
seven great fellows sitting round a table in solemn wigs. 
However, they shook hands with me with great cordiality, 
welcoming me among them and passing me unanimously, 
which was nothing more than they ought to have done, 
seeing I never made a mistake. The whole thing did not 
last half an hour, and I sent a message down to my mother 
by electric telegraph, which reached her in half an hour 

The opinion he had formed of Edinburgh society in those 
days does not seem to have been a high one, but yet he 
managed to console himself in many ways. 

" I think Edinburgh is such a beautiful town that I am 
fully compensated for its dulness by its romance, and shall 
have so many friends nejar that I can always run over to 
Keir, Blair Drummond, Abercairney, or Ochtertyre from 
all which places I have received invitations to say noth- 
ing of Condie, and Freeland, only two hours from Edin- 
burgh. I think it rather an advantage that Edinburgh 
offers no attraction in the way of society. Notwithstand- 
ing this, I find myself dining out every night, the last 
place being with old Colonel Phillpott and family. 
Curiously enough, I met at the station, all in the same 
carriage, Algernon Egerton, Campbell of Monzie, Sir Alex- 
ander Mackenzie, and Hawkins, an Indian judge, all of 
whom I had known, and none of whom hardly knew one 
another. . . . Campbell of Monzie, worn out with his 
week's canvassing, was going for the Sunday to Monzie, 
and took advantage of his audience to explain his prin- 
ciples, which he did as if he were a Free Kirk minister, 
thumping the side of the carriage cushion when he grew 
vehement in his advocacy of Protestant doctrines, and by 

44 THE BAR. 

his explanations of the ' truth as it is in Jesus' seeking to 
impress upon us the principles as they were in Monzie. 
He has a smart, amusing way of answering, and told us a 
story of having canvassed a man who seemed adverse to 
give him his vote, and was in fact rather grumpy and gruff 
in his refusal to do so, whereupon Campbell said, ' But if 
you don't vote for me, who will you vote for ? ' whereupon 
the man said he would sooner vote for the devil ; on which 
Campbell answered, ' Well, if your friend should not come 
forward, perhaps you will give me your vote.' " 

In another letter he describes his experiences in the 
office of his relation Mr Eobert Oliphant, a Writer to the 
Signet in Edinburgh, and gives an account of his day's 
work, which has a great air of diligence : 

" Everybody overwhelms me with kindness, and I am in 
great luck to be taken into Eobert Oliphant's office on the 
free-and-easy terms I am ; for I am not set down to copy 
useless papers, but simply to learn the routine. The clerks 
take a great interest in me, and explain the forms, &c. I 
go to the Parliament House at nine with the P. H. clerk, 
and see what is going on, listen to. cases I have previously 
read in the office, and talk to the various counsel, most of 
whom I know now. Moreover, it is useful to be known 
and seen often about those purlieus. After an hour or two 
there I come down to the office, where I remain till four, 
when I go and attend the Conveyancing class of Professor 
Menzies. I don't think lectures do one much good. I can 
get up more in a given time by reading ; so I have given 
up the Scots Law. . . . There are really no clever men at 
the Bar now coming on, but the juniors are a remarkably 
nice set of fellows. The Lord Advocate, Inglis, is a very 
sharp chap and a good speaker, and out and out the clever- 
est man at the bar. So that there is a great opening, and 
Robert Oliphant promises he will give me business as soon 
as I am called, so that it will be [my own fault if I do not 
get on. Everything seems much simpler than in England, 
and business is carried on in a nice familiar style, of which 
the following dialogue is a sort of sample : 


" Mr Mackenzie, loq. There is a case just precisely simi- 
lar to this one, my lord, I might say upon a' fours with it, 
which ye'll find in Dunlop, but I'll no' trouble ye with it i' 
the noo. . . . Your lordship '11 maybe no' sit to-morrow ? 

" Lord Robertson. And why not, Mr Mackenzie ? I 
think I'm as well sittin' here as anywhere else ? 

" Mr Mac. I was thinking, it being a particular occa- 
sion, out of respect for his Grace's interment 

" Lord JRob. I'm no' wantin' in respec' for the Duke ; 
but I'd sooner be here than at the funeral, and I'll just sit 
as usual." 

Many readers will remember the jovial and jocular 
judge, the 

" Lord Peter, 
Who feared not God nor man nor metre," 

who is the hero of this story, one of the last Lords of 
Session by whom " braid Scots " was still occasionally 

Laurence and his mother, who had accompanied him, 
occupied during their residence in Edinburgh at this time 
rooms in North Castle Street, a locality rendered classical 
by the long dwelling in it of Sir Walter Scotfc. Sir Anthony 
Oliphant had all a Scotsman's admiration and half-senti- 
mental longing for Edinburgh as a residence, and his son's 
exhortation, " Do come home," had doubtless all the more 
force as coming from that romantic and beloved city. 
"We should all be much more comfortable," the young 
man adds ; " and," recurring to the old joke, " I could be- 
gin to look out for a wife under your auspices. I don't 
see any likelihood of finding one for myself." 

Shortly after, however, we find him again in London, 
whither he went periodically to " eat his terms," and where 
he recurs to the " blackguards," his proUges in Westminster. 
The movement on behalf of reformed or reformable thieves 
was then in an accfa of energy, taken up vigorously under 
the patronage of Lord Shaftesbury, with much accompani- 
ment of midnight meetings, and a considerable amount of 
excitement. Among other incitements to a life of indus- 

46 THE BAR. 

try, a number of these men had been set to cutting wood 
for firewood, and Laurence was much concerned to prove 
that in patronising this effort the public in general was 
not incurring the reproach of taking bread out of honest 
people's mouths. 

" If we make a man who has hitherto been dishonest, 
honest, instead of being a burden to the State, he is a 
supporter of it, and a cheaper article in that capacity in 
the long-run, though it may cost something to make him 
honest. That strange obliquity of moral vision which 
makes a large portion of the community Tories, prevents 
them from apprehending this. The problem is evidently 
' How is a reformatory not a premium on vice ? ' We are 
now experimentally solving it. It seems to me that there 
should be some place where, when a man is bankrupt in 
character, he might go and get whitewashed some pro- 
bation through which when he passes he should come out 
registered A 1 in point of respectability. At present if a 
man sinks below a certain level in this country, unless 
some one takes him by the hand, no individual efforts on 
his part will raise him above it." 

One of the meetings which followed the industrial ex- 
periment is described as follows : " The whole thing was 
very striking ; and I felt, while a whole room full of the 
worst characters in London were singing 'God save the 
Queen ' or ' I will arise,' that I ought to have wept, and 
that you certainly would have. It is so difficult to realise 
the depravity of the men who are so innocently employed, 
and in whose countenances you can detect the hard lines 
which a vicious life has imprinted, but which are rapidly 
becoming softened by their voluntary subjection to a life 
of restraint and honest industry. It is the most interesting 
thing I have ever seen." 

In the August of 1852 Laurence made use of his first 
vacation in a Continental tour most happily and fortu- 
nately directed, at first designed as a mere expedition in 
pursuit of sport, but turning afterwards to much more im- 
portant issues. His companion was Mr Oswald Smith, one 


of the great banking family of Smith, Payne, & Smith, 
between whom and the Oliphants there was an old family 
connection, which had introduced Laurence to the house 
of a member of the firm, on his first arrival in England. 
The youth who thus accompanied him in one of his earli- 
est adventures, contributed, nearly half a century after, a 
brief but interesting memoir of his lifelong friend to one 
of the Magazines on Laurence's death and naturally this 
boyish expedition occupies a large place in it. Mr Smith 
is perhaps unduly contemptuous of the gifts as a sports- 
man of one who had ranged the jungles of Ceylon in his 
boyhood, and hunted elephants with Jung Bahadour ; but 
that the young man, already familiar with such exploits, 
should look for a fresh and unhackneyed field, something 
less tame than a moor in Scotland or the banks of a Nor- 
wegian fiord, was natural enough ; and he was also in 
search of " something to write about " a very legitimate 
object, if seldom so honestly avowed. " The only part of 
Europe within reach fulfilling the required condition," 
Laurence himself says in the ' Episodes,' " seemed to me 
the Eussian Lapland : for I heard from an Archangel mer- 
chant that the Kem and other rivers in that region swarmed 
with guileless salmon who had never been offered a fly, 
and that it would be easy to cross to Spitzbergen to get a 
shot at some white bears." 

As it turned out, this chance project proved of the very 
highest importance in the young adventurer's life, and set 
him well afloat upon the career of public service, tempered 
with personal fancy, in which so many years were to be 
passed. When the two young men reached St Petersburg 
they were allowed to go no farther in their equipment 
as sportsmen though whether by actual prohibition, or 
because of the excessive duty demanded on their fishing- 
gear and equipments, is not quite clear. Mr Smith adds 
that they were too late in the year to go north with any 
chance of sport. " It may give some idea," he says, " of 
Oliphant's sanguine and imaginative character, to record 
that his plan for future proceedings was to disembark on 
the right bank of the Volga at Tsaitsin, not far from As- 
tracan, and ride over the Don Cossack steppe, four hun- 


dred miles, to Taganrog, on the Azof Sea." They did do 
something like this, driving in rude native carriages, and 
finally reached the Crimea, then an unknown and unex- 
plored peninsula, and the mysterious city of Sebastopol, 
of which many legends, but no definite and clear informa- 
tion, had reached the world. It was known that Eussia 
was there establishing an arsenal and headquarters of war, 
from which she would be able to descend upon Turkey 
and overawe Europe ; that the entry was forbidden to 
strangers, and any attempt to make acquaintance with 
the place dangerous; all excellent reasons why the 
young travellers should push their way thither, which 
they did after all without much difficulty. Thus the 
"something to write about" was most successfully at- 

We find a full account of this journey in the letters to 
Lady Oliphant, beginning with the very first steps from 
home. At Berlin they paused for a day or two, and 
Laurence takes the opportunity to express his satisfaction 
with his travelling companion, in a charming and playful 
note full of boyish appreciation and fun. " It is a great 
thing having with one so handsome a young Englander, 
as all the pretty girls look our way, and I am humble 
enough to be quite content with the side-glances I thus 
get, he being quite unconscious of his own attractions." 
It may be added that Laurence was by no means unquali- 
fied " to please a damsel's eye " in his own person, and 
was almost certain to be, under any circumstances, the 
most entertaining and attractive person in his neighbour- 
hood wherever he was. 

"The first thing that astonishes you as you land are 
the droskies and their drivers. The former are only 
capable generally of holding one person besides the driver, 
behind whom the passenger sits cross-legged, somewhat 
in that way [a sketch is here given], if you can under- 
stand this illustration. The latter are rigged up in caps 
like this [with another sketch], and long dressing-gowns, 
and longer red beards, and always give you the benefit of 
their flavour as you sit behind them. The chief difficulty, 


however, consists in maintaining your seat over the pave- 
ment, which is execrable. In fact, the only things that 
are old in the town are the droskies and the pavement 
everything else wears an unpleasantly new and fresh 
appearance ; and the builders of the city have fallen into 
the mistake, though it is one on the right side, of leaving 
the spaces in front of the public buildings immensely 
large, so that the stray man or drosky which you see 
wandering about them gives one the impression of the 
city only being half full. Still I have never seen any- 
thing to equal the coup d'ceil from the bridge, facing the 
Izak Church and the Winter Palace, certainly the finest 
of royal residences in Europe. The Neva is as broad as 
the Thames, and beautifully clear, and the quays are 
handsome and substantial: however, Murray's handbook 
describes the town much better than I can, and unless 
we have some adventures up country, I shall have nothing 
to write about." 

In spite of this fear, he manages as usual to give a very 
picturesque account of their evening visit to the Mineral 
Waters, whither they went in a steamer : 

"Shooting through bridges, the arches of which were 
so small that you could easily touch the key-stone as you 
stood on deck, or, leaning over either side, touch the 
stone buttresses : it required the most beautiful steering ; 
I don't think there was six inches to spare in any direc- 
tion. Our boat-load consisted of a crowd going up to the 
Mineral Waters, a place of evening resort during the 
summer months, and which was as beautifully got up as 
Vauxhall. However, it was too like it to be interesting : 
the display of fireworks at the end was grand enough. 
We went to see a ceremony in the Greek Church the 
other night, and the prostrations beat those of the most 
devout and enthusiastic of Mussulmans. It was a very 
picturesque sight to see the men tossing their long hair 
and beards about as they flung their heads up and down." 

The next day, after driving to a place called Gorilla, 



where they slept, they " mounted horses which had been 
sent out there for us, and rode eight miles to Krasnoe- 
Selo plain, where the Emperor was to manoeuvre 80,000 
men, a grand sham fight with the whole Eussian army, 
to close the summer inspections." 

" The whole way to the plains the white tents of the 
camp extended, and when we reached a rising ground we 
had a magnificent view. On a knoll near us was the 
Emperor with a brilliant staff, which any Englishman 
in uniform might join unasked : unfortunately we were 
obliged to keep a respectful distance, but saw none the 
worse on that account. 40,000 men under Sidigri ad- 
vanced, and after some hard cannonading with 40,000 
under the Emperor, and a great deal of dashing about of 
cavalry and horse-artillery, drove the opposite hosts be- 
hind some further trenches. Altogether I never had so 
good an idea of a battle before. Sometimes the whole 
mass was moving at once, and the position in which we 
were enabled us to see everything perfectly. The most 
beautiful corps were the Circassian horse, covered with 
armour, and the Cossacks, with their long beards and 
spears dashing in all directions. We were nearly carried 
away by a charge of hussars, and only escaped by shelter- 
ing ourselves behind a friendly house." 

On the following day Laurence announced the definite 
change of their plans, about which they had been uncer- 
tain ; but " the custom-house has most kindly helped us 
out of our dilemma by deliberately and coolly charging us 
15 duty on our rods and guns, which our prudence at 
once prevented our thinking of paying." This, however, 
he thinks he can avoid, according to the advice of the 
Financial Minister, by taking them to Finland, a country 
which he has determined to visit, and which is not yet 
under the Eussian custom laws. " So that we are not 
altogether sold ; but meantime, as there is no such hurry 
now that we have given up the shores of the White Sea, 
we are first going to take a run down to the grand fair of 
Nijni Novgorod, and spending a couple of days en retour 


at Moscow." He regards this extra expenditure as justi- 
fiable, as he looks upon his journey as " a distinct system 
of self-education." 

" Though I must own that I have not been able to find 
out much that is really interesting in a country and gov- 
ernment which I have always looked upon as likely to 
afford more information than any other in Europe, further 
than the palpable hindrance which the policy of the Gov- 
ernment offers to anything like advancement or civilisa- 
tion where it is most needed. I don't think we have 
anything to fear from Eussia : its gigantic proportions 
render it so unwieldy, and the people are so barbarous, 
that we shall always have the same advantages which 
our enlightenment gives us over the Eastern nations. I 
look upon it as little better than China: the only differ- 
ence is that usually barbarous nations hold civilised na- 
tions in respect, which, to judge from the way they bully 
you in the custom-house, Eussia does not." 

The next letter is dated from Moscow, " this most 
charming of cities." 

" If ever there was a town that would bear to be written 
about it is this, decidedly ranking with Khatmandhu or 
Cairo in general novelty, while it is far before either in 
its particular objects of interest. . . . The Kremlin itself 
is the most unique and picturesque assemblage of churches 
and palaces of ancient and modern art, and of Eastern 
and Western architecture, that could be found anywhere 
collected in so small a compass, and so happily grouped 
together. The gilded domes and cupolas might be in the 
Punjaub, while the palace which they adjoin might be in 
Paris. The church of St Basil is perfectly unlike anything 
old or new, occidental or oriental, and forms a most strik- 
ing foreground to one of the views of the Kremlin, which 
I hope some day to show you." 

After this a forty-eight hours' diligence journey brought 


the two friends to Nijni Novgorod, where the great fair 
was going on. 

" Your letter reached me in the shop of Aaron, a Jew 
from Bukharia, who was regaling us with almonds, dried 
peas, and raisins in his warehouse in the great fair, and 
displaying the wonders that come from that part of the 
world. Indeed it would be difficult to think of a part of 
the world that did not contribute something to this Eus- 
sian emporium, and I have no doubt that before I have 
done exploring I shall find a coir -mat and perhaps a 
Moorman to sell it me. ... I was rather disap- 
pointed in seeing no Chinese, and, in fact, not quite as 
great a variety of costume as I expected; but the va- 
riety of goods disposed for sale compensates in a great 
measure for this, and though not so striking at first, is 
as satisfactory when one comes to examine the shops 
and overhaul their contents." 

By some mistake of the steamboat company's agent, 
Laurence and Smith were detained at Nijni Novgorod 
two days later than they expected, and consequently out- 
stayed the first freshness of interest. In his next letter 
he complains 

" It is a great bore, when one wants to do as much as 
possible in a given time, to be kept in a place after you 
have seen as much as you want of it. Nor can I make 
as good use of my time as I might. I am very much left 
to myself to pick up my information as I best can, and 
that is only by my eyes, since the merchants are too 
busy to attend to one, and too stupid to give any valuable 
information upon matters that from their vocation they 
ought to know something of. To-day, therefore, having 
seen every part of the fair, we took to drawing, and found 
some lovely views. The old town overhangs the Volga 
most picturesquely, and from the cliffs an extensive view 
is obtained in all directions, and a very interesting one 
over the flat on which the fair is situated, quite unlike 
anything I ever saw before. The view was too difficult 


and complicated for me to attempt : the two rivers Oka 
and Volga looked alive with human beings, as well as the 
peninsula on which 150,000 people are hived like bees. 
... I would not have missed this fair on any account, 
though I would not advise everybody to make the jour- 
ney from Moscow expr&s whereas I should almost say 
my father would consider it worth a journey from Eng- 
land alone." 

He goes on : "I must tell you what we propose doing, 
instead of hovering in a desultory way about the fair, 
having already occupied half the day in writing a descrip- 
tion of it, which differs so much from that given in 
Murray's handbook that I don't think he will approve it 
at all. First, then, there being two companies of steamers 
lately started on the river for the purpose of towing barges 
up and down it, and not of carrying passengers, we are 
going to take advantage of them, but must submit to the 
inconvenience of going slowly, and of starting on no fixed 
day, but when the barges are ready. Still, as the accom- 
modation is most comfortable, and as nobody that I know 
except the inhabitants of this part of the world has been 
down the Volga, we are going to try it, hoping that it may 
pay in the way of interest. The river being low, we shall 
not go very fast, and shall probably not get to Zaritzen, 
our point of debarkation, under ten or twelve days, during 
which time we must amuse ourselves as best we can. I 
regret that I did not buy some solid books at Moscow, but 
I did not then anticipate wanting one. You will see in 
the map that where the Volga takes its last bend towards 
the Caspian, the Don approaches withiji fifty or sixty miles 
of it, and trends away to the Sea of Azof. Here we cross, 
and embarking in a boat, glide down this river, if we find 
it practicable and convenient (there being no steamer) to 
Taganrog. At any rate, there is a post-road if we prefer it. 
Then a steamer will take us on to Kertch, from which 
place we ride through the Crimea to Sevastopol, and then 
vid Odessa to Vienna and home. . . . The Crimea, at any 
rate, I know to be well worth seeing. We should have 
liked Astrakhan and the Caspian, and across vid Tiflis, but 
have no time ; and Astrakhan is a mere llussian town, not 


half so well worth seeing as one would imagine from its 

The next letter is written on the Volga, which, in his 
usual enthusiastic way, he describes as " this most mag- 
nificent of rivers." The account of their life on board the 
steamer is given at length : they were the only passengers. 

" We have exclusive possession of the after-part of a ship, 
having a sumptuous cabin, a nice dining-room on deck, and 
a good storeroom for our necessaries. It was rather an 
interesting matter providing for the start ; for not having 
a servant, we were obliged to make our purchases ourselves, 
and rushed about buying bread and meat and groceries, 
ultimately attaining a considerable proficiency in making 
bargains. We fortunately have the use of the captain's 
cook, but do everything else ourselves, and are expert in 
laying the table, giving out the necessary stores, and econo- 
mising our small means. Hardly anything is to be pro- 
cured at the villages on the banks. This morning we 
made a tour of inspection of our larder, and found thirty 
out of fifty hard-boiled eggs had been broken and were 
bad, and the ham had been put in a damp place and got 
mouldy : however, we hope to make something of it ; but 
the eggs, alas ! are gone for ever. The experience which 
we have gained in sundry domestic matters, however, will 
be useful to us hereafter, if we marry unfortunately as 
my father did." 

This latter little piece of espitylerie, as well as the con- 
tinued and delightful references to his father, are very 
characteristic of the terms on which the young man stood 
with both his adoring parents. 

After complaining that the speed of the voyage down 
the Volga was not quite regular, as the barges sometimes 
drew more water than the steamers and ran aground, when 
" we lug away for a considerable time to get them off," he 
goes on : 

" The river is so low that we shall take longer to get to 


Zaritzen then I anticipated, and I may as well warn you 
in time not to expect me home before the 20th October. 
I shall be anxious to hear at Odessa what news from 
Ceylon. Our voyage down the Don I look forward to with 
great pleasure. The whole tour will be a novel one, and 
I hope it may furnish sufficient incidents and matter to be 
interesting in some shape or other to the public. 

"We are at this moment hard and fast on a pericarte 
or sandbank, and there is no telling how long we may 
remain where we are. Yesterday we stuck on one for nine 
hours. When we pass this one, and another one or two, 
our difficulties will be over, and we shall get rapidly on. 
We are towing two immense barges, each 320 feet long, 
and the current is eternally setting them on the shallows, 
much to our disgust. However, this is not called a pas- 
senger steamer, and we were prepared for these delays, so 
we cannot grumble: besides, except for the temporary 
annoyance caused by them, we could not be more delight- 
fully comfortable. Our existence approaches to perfection 
to my mind gliding quietly along under high wooded 
banks, past romantic glens and picturesque villages, along 
the noblest river in Europe; the days beautiful, the 
climate bracing, the thermometer ranging between 52 in 
the morning and 72 in the middle of the day ; with a 
walk and a sketch of an afternoon when we stop to take 
in wood. We have all the elements of a comfortable 
existence except clean linen. Our larder certainly is not 
very extensive, and we are most abstemious in the mat- 
ter of drink, taking nothing but tea and Volga. Still, 
there is a considerable pleasure in laying one's own table- 
cloth, and bringing out one's stores, and eating them in 

" I do not remember ever having read an account of this 
part of the world, or of the country of the Don Cossacks, 
through which we are going. Many of the villages here 
are composed purely of Tartars, and they are as unlike 
Russians as English in fact, they remind me more of the 
Bootyas in Nepaul than any other people. Their dress 
is very curious, and the women wear gold coins in their 
hair and silver breastplates. The men look just like what 


Chinese gipsies would be, if such animals existed, swarthy 
instead of copper-coloured, with Chinese features." 

Sometimes they see " a train of seven or eight barges 
wind slowly up the river tugged by a huge leading barge 
containing 150 horses and as many men, the latter em- 
ployed in laying out anchors ahead, the former in going 
round a capstan as they would in a threshing-machine, 
and warping the barges up to the anchors." 

" You will be glad to hear," he adds, " that we have at 
last overcome or undergone all pericartes, and that we are 
getting merrily along, with bright sunshiny days. This 
afternoon we hope to arrive at Simbirsk, a town which 
ought to be marked on the map as the capital of a province. 
I enjoyed my ramble over the old Tartar capital very much, 
and had a very magnificent view from the Kremlin walls. 
I hope the waiter to whom I confided my letter posted it, 
as it contained much information which I cannot now 
repeat. ... I shall not write again after leaving Simbirsk 
until I get to Taganrog. I have got so much to draw and 
so much journal to write and so little to tell, that I shall 
do no more now than repeat that I could not be happier 
or enjoying myself more." 

This last threat is not exactly carried out, as we find 
Laurence writing again from Saratov. He complains, 
though not angrily, of the frequent delays when detained 
" by people who do not understand expedition or regular- 
ity, and at whose mercy we must be so completely." These 
vexations were, however, balanced by the amiability of his 
companion, who never complained, though he had a perfect 
right to do so, seeing that he came out for a sporting 
expedition, and had been carried off instead to explore 
unknown wilds, much more satisfactory to Laurence, whose 
desire to find "something to write about" was never 
absent from his mind. 

At last, on the 20th of September, the friends arrived 
at Taganrog, having finished the still more exciting land 


" It is with feelings of unmitigated satisfaction that I 
date my letter from here, after having accomplished in 
five days and nights one of the most wild, uncouth, and 
unfrequented journeys that even Eussia can boast. I 
confess that the prospect of a steppe journey through the 
country of the Don Cossacks was a little appalling to us, 
not knowing a word of the language, or able to find a 
single person who had ever been on the road or could give 
us any information upon it. Our scheme for going down 
the Don was quite impracticable with our limited time, 
and so we decided to buy a carriage at Dubofskoi, where 
we left the steamer, and get across somehow from the 
banks of the Volga to the shores of the Sea of Azof : there 
was no alternative between doing this and going on to 
Astrakhan and then across the Caucasus by Tiflis, which 
would have taken an indefinite time. Fortunately, even 
at such an out-of-the-way place as Dubofskoi, we found a 
carriage, for which we had to pay about 11, and launched 
ourselves upon the steppe. It was a sort of post-road, and 
every fifteen or twenty miles was a wooden hut, with a 
sort of kraal for horses behind. The country was like the 
sea, with a heavy ground-swell on and calm surface, being 
covered with a short dry grass. Often for miles not a 
creature was seen ; sometimes bullock- carts passed us, or 
a wild Cossack galloped by on horseback, and here and 
there latterly villages came pretty, thick, with round 
houses like the haystacks with which they were always 
surrounded, and from which you could hardly distinguish 
them, or ragged-looking cabins like those in an Irish 
village, from which issued wild independent-looking un- 
shaven creatures. The road was often a mere track across 
the grass, and the country presented the exact same ap- 
pearance for so long a time as to become quite wearisome. 
On arriving at a station, we generally saw no one but a 
woman or a child or two, one of whom went and called a 
man, who immediately mounted on one of our last team 
and galloped across the steppe, bringing back in half an 
hour or so six or eight horses, which he drove into the 
kraal at full gallop, selected three, took half an hour or more 
to harness them, and then went off with us at a full gallop. 


Luckily the road was generally smooth, but we occasion- 
ally dashed down ugly places, the result of which was that at 
last one of the wheels was so near coming off that we had to 
stay a night at a post-station a rest we were not sorry 
to take, though it was on a wooden stretcher ; but a sheep- 
skin I bought has on sundry occasions made a capital 
mattress, only it retains the fleas for a long time. Our 
great stand-by was the samovar, or hot-water urn for 
making tea, with which the poorest peasant is always 
supplied. Except a little meat at starting, we lived 
entirely on hard-boiled eggs, rusks, and cheese, comforting 
ourselves with some capital tea which we bought at Nijni. 
Not a thing besides hot water was to be procured the 
whole way, but the people were very civil, though rough 
and barbarous : they seemed honest, but I saw so few of 
them I could not judge much about them one way or 
another. . . . Altogether, though the country was as un- 
interesting as an Egyptian desert, and we were dead beat 
and as universally shaken and. nearly coming to pieces as 
our carriage, yet there is some satisfaction in having, suc- 
cessfully made so outlandish a journey alone. . . . Luckily 
our carriage stood it wonderfully, another wheel just coming 
off as we entered the inn-yard." 

At Taganrog the two young men heard to their dismay 
that instead of twQ steamers a-week to Kertch there was 
but one a fortnight, an arrangement which seemed to make 
the journey so painfully and courageously performed a 
failure as to its final object. It is almost sulkily, though 
with the native humour, somewhat angry this time, peep- 
ing through, that Laurence complains: "Everything is 
badly arranged in this country ; nobody knows anything, 
and every piece of information relative to travelling has 
been invariably quite wrong. I had hoped to see the 
Crimea quite comfortably, and now doubt whether we 
shall have time to do it at all ; but everybody says it is 
the thing most well worth seeing in Eussia, which will 
rather reconcile me to missing it, as most probably this is 
a lie too." 

I am sorry to say that here the letters end: and the 


reader must be referred for the further course of the journey 
and the inspection of Sebastopol which followed by no 
means of such engrossing interest now as it was then to 
the narrative published in the following year. The purpose 
of finding something to write about was most triumphantly 
fulfilled, if not the sporting expedition, which was to one 
of the travellers, at least, so much less important. We 
can only hope that Mr Smith too was consoled for the big 
game he did not shoot, and the salmon he did not catch, 
by the humours and wonders of this wild extraordinary 



IT is needless to explain how extremely important this 
boyish expedition lightly undertaken indeed, yet not 
without that shrewd and clear-sighted apprehension of 
coming events which, with all the gaiety and all the daring 
love of adventure, love of fun, eager pursuit under all and 
through all of new experiences, both in life and thought, 
was an inherent part of Oliphant's many-sided nature 
was in the story of his life. The Crimea was a country 
unknown, and Sebastopol a wonder and mystery even 
while all the elements were working together to precipi- 
tate our troops upon its shores. " In the middle of this 
century," says Mr Kinglake, 1 in the beautiful description 
of the Chersonese peninsula with which his history opens, 
" the peninsula which divides the Euxine from the Sea of 

1 These lines were written while that accomplished historian and traveller 
was still with us, and when the hope of his ever-kind and ready interest 
was present with the writer, as his friendship and sympathy had always 
been with the subject of this memoir. There have been many voices to 
recall the wonderful force of that unique and elaborate study of modern 
warfare which filled his later life, and the airy and sparkling record of 
picturesque travel which conferred a blaze of fame upon his youth. The 
gentleness of his age, the tenderness of his sympathy, his ever-indulgent 
criticism and delightful praise, are recollections still more intimate and 


Azoff was an almost forgotten land, lying out of the chief 
paths of merchants and travellers, and far away from all the 
capital cities of Christendom. Earely went thither any one 
from Paris, or Vienna, or Berlin : to reach it from London 
was a harder task than to cross the Atlantic ; and a man 
of office receiving in this distant province his orders de- 
spatched from St Petersburg, was the servant of masters 
who governed him from a distance of a thousand miles." 
This was the distance which the young explorers had 
traversed ; and in the course of the next year their experi- 
ences were laid before the public in the book called the 
' Eussian Shores of the Black Sea/ which was really almost 
the only work in which the British reader could ascertain 
what was the country, and what the special difficulties of 
the war upon the verge of which Great Britain was now 
trembling. That it was received with extreme interest, 
and at once secured the general attention, is clear from 
the fact that on the 4th of March 1854 a fourth edition 
was called for and in the press. By this time the fact 
that such a book existed, and that two young men in 
London had penetrated into these unknown but so impor- 
tant regions, seems to have slowly arrived at the conscious- 
ness of the authorities, and on a memorable day Laurence 
was raised into sudden excitement and a fever of hopes 
and expectations by a summons to the Horse Guards, to 
meet the generals who were anxiously employed in the 
construction of plans for the campaign, in order to give 
them all the information he could on the subject. He 
talks in one letter of " Oswald rushing in waving a letter 
over his head," and on another occasion of "a mounted 
orderly" who rattled up to his door, dazzling all the 
lodging-houses in Half-Moon Street, with a mission from 
these great men. The summons was to the effect that 
" Lord Raglan wanted to see me at once." He communi- 
cates this briefly to his father as follows : 

"I accordingly proceeded to the Ordnance, where I 
found not Lord Raglan, but Lord de Ros, who questioned 
me minutely about Sebastopol. I gave him all the in- 
formation I could, and sent him my sketches, extracts 


from rny journal, and everything I could think useful. 
There were a couple of old Engineer Colonels (one of 
them afterwards identified as Sir John Burgoyne), all 
three poring over a chart of the Crimea. They are 
evidently going to try and take Sebastopol, and I recom- 
mended their landing at Balaclava and marching across, 
which I think they will do. Lord de Eos was immensely 
civil. I think Lord Eaglan ought in civility to make me 
his civil secretary. It would be great fun. I met Lord 
de Eos again this morning, and had a long talk with him. 
I did not mention my anxiety to get out. It is very 
ticklish saying anything about one's self on such occasions, 
and I must just bide my time and qualify myself be able 
to answer the lash, as you always say." 

The excitement and eager hope produced by these 
interviews may be imagined. It was almost impossible 
for the young man to believe that nothing would come of 
them. He plunged into the study of Turkish, and read 
everything he could lay his hands on to qualify himself 
for whatever share might come to him in the tremendous 
enterprise, for which the country, so long unused to war, 
and with her sword more or less rusty in its scabbard, 
was with great general excitement preparing. Laurence 
had been, almost from the moment of his arrival in 
England, and notwithstanding his law studies and pre- 
liminary work in that profession, avowedly seeking his 
fortune, with a keen eye upon the horizon for anything 
that might turn up. He had already leaped into a 
considerable literary connection. Mr John Blackwood, 
the editor of the well-known Magazine, a man of remark- 
able literary perception and insight, had at once divined 
an invaluable contributor in the young writer; and he 
had also formed a connection with the ' Daily News/ then 
a new paper, sparkling with literary life and interest, the 
first competitor of the 'Times.' His first arrangement 
with this newspaper was that he should contribute 
articles at two guineas a column ; but when he felt 
the wave under him floating him upwards, Laurence, who 
had always a most clear and practical business faculty, 


thought this remuneration to be inadequate, and in the 
same letter which describes his interview with the 
generals he informs his father that he had "called at 
the 'Daily News' office and said I could not afford to 
write at two guineas a column, so they offered to double 
it on the spot : terms which I accordingly accepted, and 
have knocked off twelve guineas' worth last week. I 
cannot always carry on at this rate, however, as I run 
dry. As it is, I am obliged to write bosh occasionally, 
which I don't like doing ; but the public are so gullible, 
that it is difficult to resist the temptation." 

The new hope, however, carried him away from all his 
existing interests. " I hear nothing but the Eastern 
question talked of now," he says ; " and as I am appealed 
to as an authority, although I originally knew nothing 
more about it than my neighbours, I have got it up 
carefully, in order to answer expectations." He was, 
however, by no means idle in respect to charitable and 
philanthropic engagements even during this time of 
suspense. " On Monday I have to deliver a lecture 
to what is anticipated to be a crowded audience upon 
reformatory institutions ; on Tuesday to make a speech at 
a public meeting for the Belgravian Eagged Schools ; on 
Wednesday to a large soiree to meet the swells who take 
an interest in these things. Last Sunday I gave an 
address to my blackguards at Westminster." Thus his 
hands were full as he stood and waited for fate. 

The immediate decision came, as often happens, in an 
entirely unexpected way. He had long entertained hopes 
of the help and patronage of Lord Elgin, with whose 
family, and especially with his sisters Lady Charlotte 
Locker and Lady Augusta Bruce (afterwards Stanley), 
Lady Oliphant had warm relations of friendship ; and it 
was in the midst of the excitements of the Crimean 
question, when his attention was wholly bent in another 
direction, that these hopes suddenly came to fruit. He 
was hanging amid alternate hopes and fears, " extremely 
anxious to take part in the Crimean campaign in some 
capacity or other," and ready to " accept an offer of the 
late Mr Delane to go out as ' Times ' correspondent, had 


not Lord Clarendon kindly held out hopes that he would 
send me when an opportunity offered," when promotion 
came in this totally different quarter. "It was while 
anxiously awaiting this that Lord Elgin proposed that I 
should accompany him to Washington on special diplo- 
matic service as secretary ; and as the mission seemed 
likely to be [of short duration I gladly accepted the offer, 
in the hope that I might be back in time to find employ- 
ment in the East before the war was over." His expecta- 
tion was realised, as will be seen, notwithstanding that 
the length of his absence exceeded his calculations, and 
his position latterly was more important than he had 
expected. Thus after fixing all his thoughts upon the 
East, he was carried off in an exactly opposite direction, 
and began his active work with all the interest and ex- 
citement of a rapid and special mission, in the New World, 
with which in after-life he was to have so much and so 
close connection. 

During this period of absence the letters of Lady Oli- 
phant, addressed to her son in America, afford a companion 
picture to his minute and careful record. The mother's 
anxious prayers for her only child, her fears for him, her 
expressions of confidence, her intense longing for his 
spiritual improvement and growth in grace, reveal as in a 
mirror the tender woman's pious and sensitive soul, and 
her absorption in her son's interests and fortunes. Still 
more interesting and individual, perhaps (for religious 
longings and counsels are inevitably much alike, to whom- 
soever addressed), is the cheerful background of the tem- 
porary home in Edinburgh, where her husband by this 
time had joined her, and in which the humour and good 
spirits of Sir Anthony brightened the whole scene, though 
he too could think of nothing so much as his absent son. 
Before he left Ceylon on his final retirement from office, 
the father had communicated to his wife and son his readi- 
ness to follow the fortunes of the beloved boy. " I do .not 
know," he says, " that I have ever clearly expressed my- 
self, but if not, fully understand that I am quite prepared 
to go to any place in Europe to which Lowry may go, 
whether as attacM or anything else. So long as it pleases 


God to spare us, let us all stick together." The parents 
remained in Edinburgh till Lowry should return from his 
American mission, waiting to see what Providence might 
have in store for him, and fully determined to carry out 
this purpose. One can scarcely help the question, whether 
the lively and adventurous young man would have been 
made much happier by their determination, or if the 
thought of his father and mother following him every- 
where in his erratic course might not have appeared a 
little embarrassing as well as ludicrous. The old Judge, 
however, repeated his intention to some of his friends in 
Edinburgh in a more humorous way. " The wife is but- 
toned to Lowry's coat-tails," he said, " and I am tied to 
her apron-strings. I am just like the last carriage in a 
train, waggling after them just where they please to lead." 
They looked forward to some permanent appointment for 
Lowry, in London perhaps best, with their own house open 
to all who could serve or please him, and the beloved son 
coming and going. For Sir Anthony at least this dream 
of happiness was never to come true. 

A full account of Laurence's first experiences in diplo- 
macy has been written by himself in his ' Episodes in a 
Life of Adventure,' and it is a very amusing chapter. The 
object of the mission was to negotiate a commercial treaty 
between Canada and the United States, and in the execu- 
tion of a piece of business so serious, and which was sup- 
posed so unlikely to succeed, Lord Elgin and his staff 
approached the representatives of the American nation 
with all the legitimate wiles of accomplished and astute 
diplomacy. They threw themselves into the society of 
Washington which in those days was apparently much 
more racy and original than it seems to be now, when 
American statesman have grown dull, correct, and dignified 
like other men with the abandon and enjoyment of a 
group of visitors solely intent on pleasure. Lord Elgin's 
enemies afterwards described the treaty as " floated 
through on champagne." " Without altogether admitting 
this, there can be no doubt," Laurence says, " that in the 
hands of a skilful diplomatist that liquor is not without 
its value." The ambassador had been informed that if he 


could overcome the opposition of the Democrats, which 
party had a majority in the Senate, he would find no diffi- 
culty on the part of the Government. But the young 
secretary, keen as was his intelligence, did not see his way 
at first through the feasting and the gaiety into which his 
chief plunged. "At last, after several days of uninter- 
rupted festivity, I began to perceive what we were driving 
at. To make quite sure, I said one day to my chief, ' I 
find all my most intimate friends are Democratic senators.' 
' So do I/ he replied, drily." This was the young man's 
first lesson in statecraft. The story of the expedition, as 
it more immediately concerned himself, was communicated 
to his parents in a series of long letters, beginning with 
the approach to Washington: 

" We never went through a tunnel the whole journey, 
and were therefore well able to see the country. When 
we came to towns we went slap down the main streets, 
there being nothing to keep little children from playing 
upon the rails, except ' Look out for the locomotive ' stuck 
up on boards. When we get to the middle of the town 
we stop before the principal hotel, and steps are put up 
for us as if we were a coach changing horses. The houses 
are shaded by fine old trees, and telegraph wires run over- 
head in every direction, like bridges from one cocoa-nut 
tree to another in Ceylon. Niggers become plentiful as 
we get South, and we have had three experiences of wait- 
ers in hotels. At the Clarendon there was not a man at 
all. We were waited on entirely by rather pretty bare- 
armed maidens in a becoming and uniform costume ; re- 
markably agreeable I thought it. They used to be very 
attentive to me at dinner, as they saw I appreciated their 
charms. There were at least fifty waiting every day. 
Then at the St Nicholas we had regular civilised waiters 
I am afraid to say how many but everything is done 
at the same moment, and there is a procession of full and 
empty dishes which takes about five minutes to complete 
itself. Then at Philadelphia all the waiters were niggers, 
and now we are in the land of ^Ethiopian serenaders. We 
reached Philadelphia about twelve o'clock. The scenery 


as we approached became very pretty, the rail passed along 
the banks of the broad Delaware, fringed with bright 
foliage to the water's edge, and clothed with islands. The 
wood is all of comparatively young growth ; but the country 
is often charmingly diversified. Philadelphia is the second 
city in the Union, and the handsomest. The broad streets 
lined with trees, the shady squares, the massive white 
marble houses, all add to its imposing appearance. We 
only stayed there an hour, and then went to a terminus or 
depot, as it is called, at the other end of the town. For 
day travelling the American cars are very convenient : 
they are always full of pretty girls, and if the scenery is 
not pretty you can look at them, they are always sure to 
be looking at you. In the same carriage with us we had 
that notorious Irish " patriot " John Mitchell, another 
editor of a paper, a very disreputable-looking blackguard, 
and Eoutledge the cheap publisher, an intelligent, pushing 
fellow, who is come over to spy out the nakedness of the 
land, and is going to set up a shop in the States and Canada, 
and beat the Yankees on their own ground." 

Passing on through Maryland, the first slave State, 
they spent an hour at Baltimore, which is described as 
being " more full of niggers and less of trees than the 
others we had seen": this time was occupied in visiting 
the Eoman Catholic cathedral. They then proceeded by 
train to Washington, where they arrived late in the even- 
ing. After dinner they were " energetic enough to go at 
once to the Capitol to see the final vote taken on the 
Nebraska Bill, a measure which has caused more sensa- 
tion, and is likely to lead to more important results, than 
any which has ever come before Congress." 

" Considering, however, the tone of the papers, there 
was not so much excitement manifested as I had anti- 
cipated. The whole place was crowded, the galleries full 
of ladies, and when the bill in favour of slavery was 
carried by 100 to 113, the cheering was considerable. It 
is likely to lead to totally new combinations of parties, 
and the candidates at the next election will go to the 


country upon the question of slavery or abolition. It may 
possibly," he goes on, " lead to a revolution, so strong 
is the feeling on both sides. Members have come to 
Congress every night armed to the teeth, and it is quite 
an accident that there has not been a row : however, it 
is all over for the present, and there is a lull, during which 
we hope to effect our little plans. I was rather disap- 
pointed at there not being a row, and only two honourable 
members were drunk. One was obliged to be carried 
out, but did not show any sport ; the other asked me 
what the fools were voting about : considering the row 
there was at the time, I should not have been surprised 
at the question even had he been sober." 

Laurence found the hotel at Washington uncomfortable, 
and the aspect of the place depressing, consisting of a 
wide long avenue, with the Capitol at one end and the 
President's house at the other. In fact, as he says of 
it, " it is a town without a population, and exists only by 
virtue of its being the seat of Government." He found 
his time also a good deal taken up, not with actual 
official work, but with much moving about, in constant 
attendance on Lord Elgin. The Queen's Birthday, how- 
ever, broke the monotony a little. 

" There was a grand flare-up at Crampton's, at which 
all the beauty and fashion of Washington were assembled. 
There were numbers of pretty girls, who were delighted 
at getting hold of Mr Oliphant, ' the traveller,' for by that 
term I am always introduced, and I found it difficult to 
be free and easy enough to please them. For instance, 
one carried me off to a quiet bench in the garden, and 
because I did not sit down, but stood respectfully talking, 
she got up, saying, ' Well, if you won't sit down alongside 
of me, it's no use my sitting here all night.' I need not 
say that after such an invitation I exerted myself in a 
way which won her affections ' slick off.' Notwithstand- 
ing which, I was rather astonished when, being seduced 
by her into a waltz, the only one in which I indulged, 
a fellow came up and took 'a twist with my gal.' I 


asked whether that was the custom, and was assured 
that I had nothing to complain of. Another girl whom 
I took in to supper asked for ice, so I gave her some, 
and could only find a fork, which I handed to her, on 
which she said, ' Fancy eating ice with a fork ! ' How- 
ever, I paid her off by handing her a huge table-knife, 
and pointing in justification to a lady who was ladling in 
cream in a way frightfully dangerous to behold. Most of 
the young ladies I was introduced to asked me to call upon 
them. Yesterday we had a great day in the Senate, and 
there is to be some serious squabbling there to-day, which 
I am going up with Lord E. to hear." 

The interesting part of American politics at this time 
would appear to have been the "rows"; and diplomatic 
work with Lord Elgin could not have been very fatiguing, 
since, as he says, they were engaged every night for a 
week, and " the serious business of our visit is not yet in 
train." Laurence, however, entertained no doubt of his 
own diplomatic abilities when they should be called for. 

" I have been engaged making arrangements for inter- 
views with Ministers all the morning, and my diplomatic 
powers are considerably in request, as they are 'cute 
dodgy fellows, and have always got a sinister motive in 
the background, which it is sometimes difficult to dis- 
cover. To-morrow, I suppose, we shall be hard at it: I 
shall be delighted. At the same time, this is a most relax- 
ing and depressing place, close muggy air Kandy tem- 
perature exactly and streets silent and lifeless. The last 
place in the world, notwithstanding the pretty girls, that 
I should choose as a residence. I am going to join their 
riding-parties if I have time, and will get to know them 
' to their middle initials/ the height of Yankee intimacy." 

The next letter, also from Washington, is dated the 28th 
May, and, stimulated by the receipt of a letter from his 
mother, is full of grave personal subjects. He finds him- 
self in a difficult position, delighted and grateful for the 
expression of her increased confidence in him, and her joy 


at the proofs she receives of his changed and improved 
character ; but at the time tormented by the thought 
that while he would not by throwing doubt on these 
proofs take away any of her consolation, he could not 
persuade himself that, though he was a little the better 
for his experience, there was any real cause for self- 

" My experience," he says, " has always been very slow 
indeed, and while I recognise that an important change 
has been going on in my sentiments upon many things, 
still I feel as much embarrassed and perplexed as I ever 
did. Not that I am rendered in any way so miserable as 
I used to be, nor that I ever experience those violent 
revulsions of feeling; but wherever there is a struggle 
there must be times of depression. It is a merciful thing 
that I take very little pleasure in that gaiety in which I 
am obliged to mix, and by which formerly I should have 
been intoxicated. And perhaps the pleasure of life seems 
much diminished by the reflection that one must be in a 
dangerous condition if one is not sacrificing some favourite 
passion, however much it may be changed by the progress 
of time, &c., &c. I heard this morning an admirable 
sermon, and one which was peculiarly applicable to me, 
in answer to my desire that I should hear something to 
stimulate to more vigorous resistance upon 'one thing 
thou lackest.' My difficulty is to realise divine things 
sufficiently to encourage me. The strongest incentive I 
have to follow my convictions upon such subjects is the 
inward peace and comfort which doing so has always 
brought to me, and the opposite effect of indulging myself. 
Therefore upon the lowest grounds I am disposed to 
practise self-denial. In my present capacity I am not 
engaged in any work of benevolence or charity by which 
I could, as it were, support myself. And though, no 
doubt, by my example I might glorify God, it is a much 
more difficult matter to do so in a ball-room at the French 
ambassador's, surrounded by as unthinking a throng as 
ever tripped the light fantastic, than down in West- 
minster surrounded by M'Gregor, Fowler, & Co. At the 


same time, I never saw more clearly the possibility of 
living in the world and not being of it. At present I am 
as satisfied that it is my duty to go to balls as to go to 
the Sunday-school was, provided I go in a right spirit ; 
but it is easy to theorise. Perhaps I shall have an oppor- 
tunity of testing my resolution in a very simple matter, 
about which nevertheless you have often expressed your- 
self the matter of champagne. In Edinburgh I did not 
think it worth the sacrifice ; but, as is often the case, one 
is forced into a line of conduct by the additional force of 
the temptation. It was only this morning that I felt 
the duty of putting the restraint upon myself of total 
abstinence, from my yesterday's experience, which was as 
follows : 

"At two o'clock our whole party went to a grand 
luncheon at a senator's. Here we had every sort of 
refreshing luxury, the day being pipingly hot, and dozens 
of champagne were polished off. Several senators got 
screwed, and we made good use of the two hours we had 
to spare before going to the French ambassador's matinee 
dansante at four. Here the same thing went on, with the 
addition of a lot of pretty girls whom I had before met, 
and who bullied one to dance, and were disgusted if you 
did not flirt with them. Everybody drinks champagne 
here, and there was a bowl on the table in which you 
might have drowned a baby, of most delicious and in- 
sinuating concoction. Then there were gardens, and 
bouquets, and ices, and strawberries, and bright eyes till 
six, when we had to rush off and dress for a grand dinner 
at a governor's. Here we had a magnificent repast. The 
old story of champagne, besides a most elaborate and 
highly got up French-cookery dinner, lasting from seven 
till ten, when we left the table, having been eating and 
drinking without intermission since two. We then 
adjourned with a lot of senators to brandy-and- water, 
champagne, and cigars till twelve, when some of us were 
quite ready to tumble into bed. Now I have no doubt 
you are perfectly horrified, and picture to yourself your 
inebriated son going to bed in a condition you never 
thought possible ; but, on the contrary, yesterday was a 


most profitable day to me. In the first place, though I 
did not restrain myself, I did not in the slightest degree 
exceed. I did not touch anything else Tmt champagne, 
and stopped exactly at the right moment. I felt all 
through that I was in a position not of my own seeking, 
and that if it was agreeable to me it was because I myself 
was at fault. I felt that it was only not positively dis- 
gusting because I participated, and that if I had not 
touched a thing I could not but have been excessively 
bored. I have therefore resolved never to touch another 
drop of champagne while in Washington, not because I 
took too much, but because I see that whether I am doing 
right or wrong depends entirely upon the spirit in which 
I participate in these things. It is necessary to the 
success of our mission that we conciliate everybody, and 
to refuse their invitations would be considered insulting. 
Lord Elgin pretends to drink immensely, but I watched 
him, and I don't believe he drank a glass between two 
and twelve. He is the most thorough diplomat possible, 
never loses sight for a moment of his object, and while 
he is chaffing Yankees and slapping them on the back, he 
is systematically pursuing that object. The consequence 
is, he is the most popular Englishman that ever visited 
the United States. If you have got to deal with hogs, what 
are you to do ? As Canning said of a man, ' He goes the 
whole hog, and he looks the hog he goes,' which is pre- 
cisely a description of this respectable race ; but I have 
no occasion even to pretend to drink their wine, and I 
shall therefore not do it. I was perfectly well this morn- 
ing, but Sir Cusack Honey and Hincks are both laid up 
poor Sir Q., as we call him, f-airly knocked up, or rather 
down, by such unaccustomed proceedings. As I said, I 
am so far grateful to it all if it is the means of making 
me form resolutions and sticking to them, which less 
prominent dissipation, such as that of Edinburgh, would 
never have done. 

" But a far more difficult matter than the champagne is 
the young ladies. My natural temperament not being 
amorous but very joyous, I get too boisterous, or rather 
reckless, in flirting, for simple fun. Therefore, though 


there is no absolute command against other than idle 
words, which is one none'of us can very strictly apply, yet 
I feel that I have been talking an amount of nonsense of 
which my conscience is ashamed, and the effect of a whole 
afternoon spent in the way I have described, which would 
formerly be to distract and unsettle me, has been to sober 
and solemnise me, and to make me think how I am to 
meet the difficulties opposed to me. Under other cir- 
cumstances, I should keep away from the drinking this 
would be no sacrifice ; from the ladies it would be one 
that I could easily make. I should call upon the mission- 
aries if I was going to live here, and employ myself as I 
did in London ; but I am called upon to join in every- 
thing, and my conscience would not in the slightest degree 
twit me for doing so, provided I was all the time bored 
instead of pleased. The test of the thing is whether I like 
it, and though I cannot say I do, I very soon would, and 
therefore it is I must be especially watchful, while it 
would be comparatively easy for me to form and keep 
resolutions : and I have enjoyed the quiet of to-day and 
the sermon, which was very comforting, though it incul- 
cated a serious lesson. I am glad you spoke about the 
tobacco, but at present there is no fear of that ; Lord 
Elgin hates smoking, and I do not like it in this jovial 
soil of parties. I have not smoked half-a-dozen cigars 
since leaving England, and every one has been a solitary 
one, when I wanted to compose myself and think. I 
think it prostitutes tobacco to drink and talk over it. 
However, I shall never care really about it, and it is very 
seldom that I am in the humour generally when I am 
disgusted with myself ; and I am more self-satisfied, or to 
speak more truly, have more tranquillity than I used to 
have, and do not need soothing. Your letter was worth 
all the cigars in the world." 

After what he himself termed "this long confession," 
the letter turned to business. He had received much 
applause in America on the subject of his book, and had 
begun to inquire within himself whether he could write a 
book which he felt ought to be written namely, a phil- 


osophical treatise on the American constitution, with the 
chief heads of " slavery, federalism, and the great questions 
upon which, sooner or later, the Union must fall to pieces." 
This, by the way, in 1854, was not a bad prophecy for a 
young man, who had not been in the country a month. 
" The fallacies of the form of government," he says, " are 
only dawning on me, and I should require a long course of 
reading and observation before entering upon so serious a 
task ; but it would be the most interesting topic possible, 
and one which, when it does force itself upon public at- 
tention, will engross the whole world." Eight as he was 
in some of his prognostics, he had no time to give to this 
work, though he left the subject with a whimsical regret, 
" It would be a great thing to have another book out in 
the nick of time." 

One more letter which followed from Washington was 
filled with a sort of chronicle of the days between 31st 
May and 5th June. He had at last got to work, though 
it was while waiting for Lord Elgin to give him some- 
thing to do that he took the opportunity of writing his 

" I was occupied the greater part of yesterday in writing 
officially. I am afraid I make a bad secretary : my forte 
does not lie in business matters. In fact, I should be the 
head of the department, not the clerk. It is so fearfully 
hot and relaxing that one is not disposed for hard work. 
I have not much new to tell. We dine out as usual, and 
the dinners last three hours as usual, and I generally get 
between two senators, one of whom pours abolitionism in 
my ear, the other, the divine origin of slavery. The poli- 
tics of this country are most complicated, and difficult to 
understand ; there are so many different parties, rejoicing 
in so many different names. There are the Whigs, and 
Democrats, and Filibusters, and Hard Shells, and Soft 
Shells, and Free-Soilers, and Disunionists, and Federalists, 
all of whom expect you to understand at once their dis- 
tinctive characteristics. I have not time to ' post myself ' 
up in all these matters, nor to see sights in fact, America 
woulcl be a great deal more difficult to write about than 


Russia, its constitution being so much more complicated, 
and its practical working so very different from its theory." 

This conclusion, however, does not hinder him from in- 
dicating his opinion on various points: as, for instance, 
that whereas the President should be one of the first men 
in the country, he was in fact, as a rule, a mere cipher in 
point of intellect ; and that bribery and corruption pre- 
vailed as universally as in Russia, though in a different 
way. Many American writers, in days since Laurence's 
letters were written, have pointed out this tendency and 
opening to corruption as the great inherent fault in their 
constitution. To investigate such a serious question, how- 
ever, so as to find out its real cause, required more time 
than Laurence could give to it, as " now that Colonel Bruce, 
and Sir Cusack and Lady Honey have gone, and Hamilton 
is laid up in New York," he remained the only companion 
of Lord Elgin, and could go nowhere on his own account ; 
so that he would seem to have given up the idea of writ- 
ing a book. 

"There is a great deal of self-denial involved with 
the conscientious discharge of my duties, and I am 
obliged to decline invitations to riding-parties, &c., &c., 
and take a sober stroll instead all very good discipline, 
no doubt. It is a very great advantage to me, being 
behind the scenes in a matter of this kind, and seeing 
how an able man like Lord E. manages affairs. I com- 
pare him with papa. They have a good many points 
of similarity in their way of venting their indignation 
and fuming, and yet |never acting impulsively. I occa- 
sionally take a look in upon Bury, who is living in 
another hotel: it is pleasant to look upon a kent face. 
I think it very possible that, now that Colonel Bruce 
has left Canada, I may act as Lord Elgin's private 
secretary there. However, that is only a supposition 
on my part: nothing has been said to me about it, so 
don't mention it ; of course I should be glad to be 
employed in any way. ... I am keeping all the accounts, 
and I think there must be a mistake somewhere, as I 


have expended and received some hundreds of dollars, 
and they come right exactly, which is most strange and 

"The other night I was dining out with rather a 
singular houseful of people: the master of the house 
was a senator, a methodist preacher, and a teetotaller; 
consequently, although it was a party of twenty people, 
we had nothing to drink but iced water. His wife, 
who unfortunately was not there, is a spirit medium, 
and in constant communication with the nether, though 
she calls it the upper, world. Her daughter, who sat 
next me at dinner, is a Bloomer, and never wears any 
other costume; she has an ugly shambling figure, and 
cuts the most absurd appearance: her husband is an 
avowed and rampant infidel, so that altogether it was 
a very odd if not instructive assemblage. I don't know 
how they all manage to get on together. For the preacher 
must look upon his sori-in-law as a viper, and the son- 
in-law must look upon his mother as an impostor, and 
they must all look upon his wife as a fool while she 
takes very good care to show the world that she wears 
the breeches." 

Many other amusing notes follow as to the people 
he meets. On one occasion the gentleman sitting next 
him volunteered the information that he (the speaker) 
was a singular man, and related his history; how, left 
without a farthing at seven years old, he managed to 
pay for his own education out of his earnings, qualified 
as a barrister at the age of twenty - one, being then 
the proud owner of just 2 dollars 50 cents in the world, 
and owing 500 dollars ; how, being not yet thirty, he 
had already lost wife and child, and was looking out 
for another bride to go with him on a journey to Europe, 
to study the politics of other countries before he came 
back to embark upon a political career in his own. On 
the morning of the day on which Laurence wrote, his 
companions were of a still more remarkable kind. 

"On one side of me was the governor of the new 


Territory of "Washington, which lies to the north of 
Oregon, upon the North Pacific, and is seventy days' 
journey from this place : on the other side was a senator 
from Florida, who gave me some curious information 
about those parts. Then I made great friends with 
the celebrated Colonel Fremont, who is a splendid fellow, 
and has been more nearly starved to death, and more 
often in that predicament, 'than any other man in 
creation, don't care where you look for him.' Then there 
was Colonel Benton, who is writing a great work, and 
is ' quite a fine man ' ; and Mr Senator Toombs, who 
is to be president some of these days ; and the governor 
of Wisconsin, whose government has increased in popu- 
lation, within ten years, from 30,000 to 500,000, and 
who met a man the other day who had travelled over 
the whole globe, arid examined it narrowly with an 
eye to agricultural capabilities, and who therefore was 
an authority not to be disputed ; and this man said that 
he had never, in any country, seen fifty square miles 
to equal that extent in the State of Wisconsin, and 
therefore it was quite clear that the spot was not con- 
tained in creation. As other provincials have informed 
me that their respective States are each thus singularly 
gifted, I am beginning to get puzzled as to which really is 
indisputably the most fertile spot on the face of the 
habitable globe. 

" I have every hope that we shall polish off our treaty 
to-morrow, in which case we shall retire in the evening, 
covered with glory. It is a most exciting operation, 
and for the last few days, as matters have approached 
a crisis, I have been at it from morning till night, and 
then dreaming about it. The alternation of hope and 
fear is most trying, as new difficulties are suggested, and 
methods of solving them proposed, and new concessions 
gained, and the old Secretary of State bamboozled. 
Hiiicks goes away to-day, and Lord Elgin and I will 
be left alone. There are so many fellows opposed to 
the treaty, and so much underworking, that it requires 
considerable 'cuteness and caution to manage matters ; but 
Lord Elgin is a match for them, and it is a pleasure to see 


how he works the matter. It would be of advantage to a 
fool, and of course it is invaluable to a clever cove like me, 
who is given to appropriating other men's dodges." 

While all this serious and exciting business was proceed- 
ing, the dinners and matinees dansantes seem also to have 
gone on as continuously as ever, and " the soft balmy even- 
ings in pretty gardens, with fruits and ices, and ' quite a 
clever piece ' for a companion, are enjoyable enough." The 
next letter is dated the 7th of June, the last having ended 
on the 5th, and was written at New York, where he had 
arrived after the successful issue of the negotiations at 

" We are tremendously triumphant ; we have signed a 
stunning treaty. When I say we, it was in the dead of 
night, in the last five minutes of the 5th of June, and the 
first five minutes of the 6th day of the month aforesaid, 
that in a spacious chamber, by the brilliant light of six 
wax-candles and an argand, four individuals might have 
been observed seated, their faces expressive of deep and 
earnest thought, not unmixed with cunning. Their feel- 
ings, however, to the acute observer manifested themselves 
in different ways ; and this was but natural, as two were 
young and two aged, one, indeed, far gone in years, the 
other prematurely so. He it is whose measured tones 
alone break the solemn silence of midnight, except when 
one of the younger auditors, who are intently poring over 
voluminous MSS., interrupts him to interpolate ' and ' or 
scratch out ' the.' They are, in fact, checking him ; and 
the aged man listens while he picks his teeth with a pair 
of scissors, or clears out the wick of the candle with their 
points and wipes them on his hair. He may occasionally 
be observed to wink, either from conscious 'cuteness or 
unconscious drowsiness. Attached to these three MSS. 
by red ribbon are the heavy seals. Presently the clock 
strikes twelve, and there is a doubt whether to date it to- 
day or yesterday. For a moment there is a solemn silence, 
and he who was reading takes the pen, which has previously 
been impressively dipped in the ink by the most intelligent 


of the young men, who appears to be his secretary, and 
who keeps his eye warily upon the other young man, who 
is the opposition secretary, and interesting as a specimen 
of a Yankee in that capacity. There is something strangely 
mysterious in the scratching of that midnight pen, for it is 
scratching away the destinies of nations ; and then it is 
placed in the hands of the venerable file, whose hand does 
not shake, though he is very old, and knows he will be 
bullied to death by half the members of Congress. The 
hand that has used a revolver upon previous similar occa- 
sions does not waver with a pen, though the lines he traces 
may be an involver of a revolver again. He is now the 
Secretary of State; before that, he was a judge of the 
Supreme Court ; before that, a general in the army ; before 
that, governor of a State ; before that, Secretary at War ; 
before that, minister in Mexico ; before that, a member of 
the House of Representatives ; before that, an adventurer ; 
before that, a cabinet-maker. So why should the old man 
fear ? Has he not survived the changes and chances of 
more different sorts of lives than any other man ? and is 
he afraid of being done by an English lord ? So he gives 
us his blessing, and we leave the old man and his secretary 
with our treaty in our pockets." 

This letter was finished at Boston in the middle of the 
continued journey. Laurence had been sent on at once to 
New York, where he was kept awake all night by a demon- 
stration in favour of a senator in the same hotel, so that 
the vigil consequent upon the completion of the treaty was 
not his only one. After this he travelled on "through 
lovely country, wooded and watered and smiling, up glens 
in the railway, which in these countries prefers going up 
and down hill to going through tunnels, and going past 
lakes embedded in foliage, with pretty villages of white 
wooden houses inhabited by prim descendants of the 
Pilgrim Fathers and so on to this city, more like an 
English commercial emporium than any other in the 
States; and to-morrow we undergo a grand triumphal 
reception at Portland, and next day another at Montreal, 
and next day another at Quebec, all which I hope to find 


time to tell you of in my next. Meanwhile Lord Elgin is 
rejoicing in the prospect of about six speeches a-day, and I 
in hopes of amusing myself, which, indeed, I have been 
doing very fairly all along. We have got Sir Cu. and Lady 
Eoney, and in addition to them a Sir Henry and Lady Cald- 
well, in our party." 

The details of description which he continues to give as 
he passes along may be less interesting to the sophisticated 
reader, who since then has heard so much of America ; but 
they are at least brief and graphic. Portland, where the 
party " arrived under a salute, and went in procession to 
the house of one of the leading citizens," Laurence de- 
scribed as " lovely." " The situation of Portland is very 
striking, on a high promontory which overlooks an im- 
mense bay, on which upwards of three hundred islands are 
dotted; while towards the interior a richly wooded and 
fertile country stretches away to the base of the White 
Mountains, 6000 feet high. The town is well laid out 
every street an avenue of noble trees, and the houses sub- 
stantially built. It is destined before long to rival Boston, 
and will form the main outlet for Canadian produce. This 
treaty will be the making of it ; and the inhabitants no 
doubt felt that they could not sufficiently honour the man 
who had done more for their town than anybody else." 

The festivities here consisted chiefly of a great banquet, 
at which "Lord Elgin delighted them with his happy 
speeches " ; and " I distinguished myself in responding to 
a ' sentiment ' of a literary character with which my name 
was coupled." The entrance of the Mission into Canada 
after this partook of the character of a royal progress, with 
triumphal arches, cheering crowds, and welcoming speeches 
at all the stations. But at Montreal, " where the popula- 
tion is somewhat uncertain in its loyalty," their reception 
was by no means so demonstrative although the people 
" behaved very decently " on the whole. From Montreal 
a special steamer carried the party on to Spencer Wood, 
the viceregal residence, of which Laurence gives an en- 
thusiastic description. He writes on the verandah into 
which his rooms open, " enjoying a Mediterranean air and 
more than a Mediterranean view " :* 


" SPENCER WOOD, June 14, 1854. 

"From the verandah extends a lawn studded with 
noble trees to the edge of a steep wooded bank, and 
among the trees rise the tapering masts of ships, which 
look as if they were eccentric branches. They are lying 
in the St Lawrence, two miles broad, and filled with craft 
of all sizes. It is at once peaceful and busy, and I prefer 
it to the sea, as in an epicurean point of view it is disturb- 
ing to see anything like commotion; but quiet life is 
perfect. The opposite bank of the St Lawrence is pre- 
cipitous and well wooded, with villages at the base, or 
climbing up valleys or perched upon the edge, and 
churches prominent and picturesque. When I am tired 
of looking at the point of view over this lovely scene 
which my window affords, I stroll down a broad long 
avenue of magnificent trees ; and then, turning through a 
thick copse by a winding path, I come upon a little wooded 
gorge, down which a noisy brook tumbles ; and I follow 
that till it gets too impetuous for my sentimental system, 
or for the proper construction of the path, which there 
comes out abruptly upon the edge of a precipice where a 
summer-house is perched, from which you can look up 
and down the river for miles. In one direction the swell- 
ing banks, of the most brilliant green, are dotted with 
houses, for the whole country is thickly inhabited ; on the 
other, a lofty promontory is crowned with the fortifications 
of Quebec, standing out into the river as if to guard the 
beauties that are beyond. The bay formed by the pro- 
montory on which I am, and that on which the Fort stands, 
is filled with wood. It is at once an island of planks and 
a forest of masts ; and as I lie listening to the sound of 
the busy world, the songs of the sailors and the clang of 
hammers, the laughter of children and the rushing of the 
stream, I can enjoy kief to perfection ; and I am afraid I 
have insensibly wasted some valuable time in allowing my 
senses to have the benefit of all these charms. Lord Elgin 
thinks I am the most romantic of authors, whereas I ain 
rather surprised to find that I can now enjoy what I never 
before really appreciated, and I rejoice in the discovery of 
a new faculty of enjoyment and a fitting place to exercise 


it in. To be sure, I have had more to think about within 
the last few days than I ever had at any former period of 
my life or at any rate, I have thought external circumstan- 
ces worthy of more consideration than I am in the habit of 
doing. With one's sense of responsibility grows also the 
important reflection of its proper exercise, and I look upon 
moments of quiet as more necessary to fortify one to join 
in the racket of life, just in proportion as that racket is 
universal and becomes more distracting. I therefore rec- 
ognise in the charms of Spencer Wood and the valley of 
the St Lawrence a legitimate source of comfort and sup- 
port, intended for my benefit just when I most need it." 

These somewhat solemn reflections, by which the young 
man excuses his love of loitering in a beautiful scene, are 
amusing enough ; but the intimation at the end of his 
letter of the new position in which he suddenly found 
himself was enough to warrant the solemnity. 

"My book has obtained for me all through our tour 
considerable notoriety, and I was immensely made of ^by 
the citizens of Portland and elsewhere. Here, too, where 
novelties are rare, I am an object of some curiosity, and 
am in consequence rather nervous at the prominence of 
my position and which was so totally unexpected. I 
think I had just heard of it as I closed my last letter to 
you. Know, then, that I am now Superintendent-General 
of Indian Affairs, having succeeded Colonel Bruce in that 
office, and having as my subordinates two colonels, two 
captains (all of militia), and some English gentlemen who 
have been long in the service, and who must look rather 
suspiciously at the 'Oriental Traveller's' interposition. 
However, I hope to get on pretty well, notwithstanding I 
already contemplate rowing one of the colonels and turn- 
ing him out if he is not more attentive to his duties." 

The appointment of so young a man, not even a member 
of the Civil Service, and entirely new to Canada and its 
needs, was evidently by no means a popular one if we may 
trust the cuttings from Canadian papers which accompany 



these letters; and caused great talk of favouritism, and 
the sacrifice of the public service to private motives. He 
himself, however, was full of great intentions on the 
subject, and a determination to do his duty. He writes 
in a subsequent letter that he has not been fully em- 
ployed, and is disgusted by the waste of time. 

" SPENCER WOOD, July 7. 

"However, it is not altogether lost, for I have been 
revolving great projects in my brain. One is to remodel 
to a great extent the Indian Department, and the whole 
system upon which the Indian tribes are at present 
managed. However, it must be done with caution and 
well matured, as I suspect the Government will not 
readily assent to my views, which are a little arbitrary 
and despotic. Then I am going to compile information 
for a book which I have been planning. It is to be a 
sort of treatise on constitutional government, contrasting 
this country with the United States, showing the abuses 
of the latter and the advantages of responsible govern- 
ment. I have got such great advantages here in the way 
of material, that I do not like to let the opportunity slip. 
At the same time, it is such a tremendous undertaking, 
and I commence it in a condition of such abject ignorance, 
that I have not as yet plucked up courage to face it. 
Moreover, it is a nervous operation to risk one's reputa- 
tion upon so grand a theme. However, success will be all 
the more glorious, and I shall not be in a hurry, but di- 
gest and compile slowly ; and then, when the great crash 
comes in the States which is inevitable, I will try and 
turn out a few notions on the crisis at the nick of time. 
If the crisis does not come, I shall put my information 
into an anonymous form, rather than publish anything 
with my name that is not paramountly interesting. If 
Aunt M. and others wish to know whether my appoint- 
ment is permanent, pray say that I am most thankful it is 
not. Nothing can be a greater curse to a young man 
wishing to get on than a permanent appointment. It is 
certainly not the quickest way to get up a ladder to 
establish one's self on the lowest step." 


And here is a piece of precocious youthful wisdom, 
perhaps not quite so wise as that above quoted. It is 
given with the absolute certainty which members of the 
human race possess at twenty-five. "No man who has 
been the editor of a Government paper for twenty years 
can retain his honesty. You see how the 'Times' has 
been obliged to go into opposition : they were losing their 
influence fast. Nothing is more established than the fact 
that the newspaper which exerts the greatest influence in 
a country must be in opposition. It is also sure of a 
larger circulation, because Government supporters are 
obliged to take it to see what is said, and the opponents 
take it because they agree with it. 

" I confess," adds the young man, going back to ques- 
tions less abstract, "that I am rather fascinated with 
the new world. There is such scope for great political 
chances and changes. Now that we have got reciprocity, 
there can be no doubt that Canada is best off as she is, in 
spite of all the nonsense that ass Ellenborough talked. 
It is a great comfort to feel that if the old world does 
not pay we can fall back upon the new. There is plenty 
of room, and great facilities for becoming rich." 

Another letter, however, from the paradise of Spencer 
Wood, where his mind was full of so many projects, both 
practical and visionary, is of a very different tone. It is 
like the opening of a door in the secret chamber of the 
young man's heart and thoughts, at which his mother 
was continually knocking, anxious above all things to 
know how his mind stood in respect to the momentous 
matters of religion, in which, from his earliest childhood, 
she had desired continual confidences. I do not know 
what Lady Oliphant's distinctive views were at this time. 
They were, perhaps, a little open to the influence of the 
prevailing preacher who interested and instructed her; 
but they were always full of profound and emotional 
piety, and her strongest flesire was that her son should be 
like herself, placing sacred subjects in absolute pre-emi- 
nence both in his thoughts and life and that he should 
tell her so. He writes on a Sunday morning, when " kept 
back by a wet day from going to church." 


" SPENCER WOOD, July 9. 

"Just now, however, the sun has burst forth from 
behind the clouds, and makes nature here look more 
lovely than ever. While enjoying it just now, I was 
struck with the congenial sentiments expressed in the 
Psalm to which I was referred in Bogatsky, the 143d : 
they seemed exactly to explain my feelings. The more 
sensible one is of the magnificence of the works of crea- 
tion, the more incompetent one feels to live worthily of 
the author of them, and a sort of feeling of desolation is 
induced, which David evidently sympathised with. There 
is a hopeless longing to be assimilated to the Creator, 
no doubt increasing in intensity in proportion as one 
appreciates His works ; and in spite of any combinations 
of external circumstances which, so far as the world is 
concerned, seem enough to make one perfectly happy and 
contented, the very fact of one's being capable of a cer- 
tain degree of enjoyment makes one desire a still higher 
order. Of nothing am I more certain than of the incom- 
petency of any earthly gratification affording happiness 
just on the same principle: it is always accompanied 
with an indefinable longing for something more, just as 
when one contemplates nature and enjoys it most keenly, 
the soul begins to thirst after God as a thirsty land, and 
' the heart within is desolate.' David evidently looked 
upon nature as an appointed means of elevating the soul. 
So many of his aspirations have their origin in this ; and 
in admiring God's works nothing can be more natural 
than an ardent desire to be imbued as largely as possible 
with the same spirit that breathes in them. ' Thy spirit 
is good.' As I think I said in a letter ^orne time ago, we 
do not half appreciate the influence of the Spirit. I am 
perhaps inclined to give it too prominent a place, my 
natural inclination being to overlook the Second Person 
as the only recognised means of obtaining the Third. 
But that is just where my faith is most severely tried. 
Everything around me testifies to the existence of a Being 
who is all-pervading; but the Son is nowhere visible, 
and does not, so to speak, force Himself upon the senses. 
It is a totally different act of the mind which is required 


to accept Him as a positive fact. To speak in old 
Erskine's phraseology, the subjective Tally is wanting, 
which, in the Deity and His Spirit, as manifested in 
nature, is so readily found. However, I have rather 
wandered from the original idea, which presented itself 
forcibly on reading the Psalm ; and it is worthy of ob- 
servation that David had not only the subjective as 
regards God in nature but in Christ, and that by an act 
of faith infinitely more difficult than ours, as it was pros- 
pective. This want on my part is therefore the result, 
doubtless, of a small measure of the Spirit, and I have 
the most perfect confidence that if I earnestly desire to 
be taught and confirmed on this point, the Spirit will 
effectually operate. At present, with the small measure 
I as yet possess, and the pertinacity with which I grieve 
and offend it in spite of its remonstrances, I can scarcely 
expect to make any rapid progress ; but I think you will 
understand from what I have said how the 143d Psalm 
should chime in with my feelings, and be comforting in 
showing how a man of David's spirituality was occasion- 
ally led to lament over his own weakness while meditat- 
ing on God's works. You used to say that the more I 
was favoured by external circumstances, the more I 
grumble and am discontented with myself. I think 
even after David was a king he was occasionally affected 
in like manner, and were it not so, one would be dis- 
posed to think that one was deserted altogether, and left 
to one's own evil devices." 

While thus, however, opening his heart to his mother 
in the way she most eagerly desired, he was very anxious 
not to give her too high an idea of his spiritual progress, 
or represent himself as better than he felt himself to be ; 
and in the end of the same letter, continued some days 
later, he protests against her too delighted reception of 
such spiritual confidences. 

"I think you overrate my progress, and give way to 
your natural impulses too much in the expression of such 
ardent rejoicings. I only hope they will not be turned 


into mourning. I am of course very glad of anything 
that reconciles you to our separation; but at the same 
time feel my own weakness too much to desire that you 
should repose too much confidence in my resolutions, or 
anticipate too great results from what I wrote. This is 
just one of the reasons which make me hesitate about 
expressing so very much. It would be far better for you 
not to form extravagant expectations, than having formed 
them to be disappointed. However, I do not mean that 
you should not be grateful with all humility, or that it is 
not natural, if you feel comforted during my absence, 
that you should say so ; only you must remember that 
the effects of it might be to produce a spirit of self-satis- 
faction in me, or a desire to write more of the same com- 
fortable doctrine when I don't feel it, with many other 
bad effects to say nothing of the dreadful reaction which 
is always possible, and which is indeed inevitable when 
any one emotion is allowed an undue influence. There is 
a most ungrateful lecture to return to such an affecting 
outpouring as few sons, I am sure, ever received; but 
however agreeable it may have been at the time, the 
danger of going to extremes in these matters struck me 
too forcibly not to make me feel warranted in telling you, 
as you always ask me to do so." 

The important post to which he had been appointed, 
and which carried him into untrodden ways, and put the 
affairs of the Canadian Eed men into his youthful keep- 
ing, with no experience, and only his native intelligence, 
shrewdness, and keen perception of human character to 
guide him, gave him material for an interesting and amus- 
ing book, 'Minnesota and the Far West,' published im- 
mediately after his return, and for some further recollec- 
tions published in the ' Episodes in a Life of Adventure,' 
which make it unnecessary to enter largely into them here. 
In the carrying out of this work, he had to travel far into 
the depths of the country, and to meet with many novel 
experiences. " This duty," he says, " was eminently to my 
taste. It involved diving into the depths of the back- 
woods, bark-canoeing on distant and silent lakes or down 


foaming rivers, where the fishing was splendid, the scenery 
most romantic, and camp-life at this season of the year, 
for it was the height of summer, most enjoyable." It was 
a prolonged picnic, with just enough duty thrown in to 
deprive it of any character of selfishness. At nearly all 
the stations there was a school or mission-house of some 
kind, and here the meeting of the warriors and young 
braves with their "father" (himself) took place, "and 
as I had barely attained the age of twenty-five when these 
paternal responsibilities were thrust upon me, the incon- 
gruity of my relation towards them, I am afraid, presented 
itself somewhat forcibly to the minds of the veterans on 
these occasions." The most important result of his work 
among them seems to have been, as in the case of the work 
in Washington, the signing of a treaty. Two State negoti- 
ations more different than that between Great Britain and 
the United States, and that by which the poor Indians 
gave up for a substantial consideration the land previously 
allotted to them, but which their wandering habits pre- 
vented them from making any proper use of, could scarcely 
be. But the young diplomatist found interest in both. 

The latter part of Lord Elgin's viceroyalty was full of stir- 
ring Colonial politics, changes of Ministry and much polit- 
ical commotion ; and when the young Superintendent of 
Indian Affairs returned to Quebec from his voyage to the 
West, it was to resume the duties of his Excellency's private 
secretary in troubled times the trouble, however, doing 
little more than add a zest to the work, and a little excite- 
ment to life. "My position here is very agreeable," he 
writes; "I have pleasant alternatives of excitement and 
tranquillity, always plenty to occupy me, a climate which 
agrees with me better than any other I ever was in ; and in 
many ways I think I am gaining much valuable experience. 

" I found no less than ten official letters, besides the 
English mail, awaiting me this morning. I had moreover 
four appointments of gentlemen wanting interviews, a lot 
of incidental coves to stave off from his Excellency, which 
I flatter myself is the part of the business I excel in most. 
They always leave infinitely better pleased than if they 


had had their interview. My life is much like that of 
a Cabinet Minister or Parliamentary swell, now that the 
House is sitting. I am there every night till the small 
hours, taking little relaxations in the shape of evening 
visits when a bore gets up. That keeps me in bed till 
late, so that breakfast and the drive in (from Spencer 
Wood), &c., detain me from the office till near one. Then 
I get through business for the next three hours chiefly 
consisting of drafting letters, which in the end I ought to 
be a dab at. I have three bell-ropes hanging at my right 
hand communicating with my two departments and the 
messengers. I also append my valuable signature to a 
great deal without knowing in the least why, and run out 
to the most notorious gossips to pick up the last bits of 
news, political or social, with which to regale his Excel- 
lency, who duly rings for me for that purpose when he 
has read his letters and had his interviews. Then he walks 
out with an A.D.C., and I go to the House. There I take up 
my seat on a chair exclusively my own next the Speaker, 
and members (I have made it my business to know them 
nearly all) come and tell me the news, and I am on chaff- 
ing terms with the Opposition, and on confidential with 
the Ministerialists. If I see pretty girls in the galleries 
who are friends of mine (the galleries are always full), I 
go up there and criticise members and draw caricatures 
of them, which they throw down into members' laps neatly 
folded, who pass them to the original, by which time I 
have regained my seat, and the demure secretary remains 
profoundly political and unsuspected. I find nothing so 
difficult as keeping up my dignity, and when the Bishop 
or a Cabinet Minister calls, I take their .apologies for in- 
truding as if I was doing them a favour. I am afraid of 
hazarding a joke unless I am quite sure it is a good one. 
I suppose the dignity of the office was so well sustained 
by Bruce, that they are scandalised by a larky young cove 
like me." 

More serious matters, however, mingled with the fun 
with which the gay young secretary diversified his life. 
On the day after a great picnic, terminating in an im- 


promptu dance which was his suggestion, and which 
accordingly he devoted all his faculties to carry out suc- 
cessfully, he describes himself as " fairly done up." 

" The Ministers were determined to push through the 
answer " (to the Governor's speech from the throne), " in 
order that by large majorities they might influence the 
election of the new Ministers in Upper Canada ; the 
Opposition were determined to defeat that object : so it 
was a question of who would sit it out. The consequence 
was a debate of twenty-two hours. I had dined out and 
gone to an evening party, and then went to the House 
and remained till half -past four, when Mackenzie the 
quondam rebel got up to make a rambling speech which 
I hear lasted for four hours ; but I left, and when I 
returned at one in the afternoon I found the House still 
sitting, so you see Parliament is not a mere sham in this 
country, and its value is properly appreciated. On Thurs- 
day we had a succession of grand doings, beginning at 
twelve, accounts of which you will see in the papers. 
Lord Elgin made a magnificent oration in French : it is 
really a pleasure to be attached to such a man, so stun- 
ning in certain respects. It created a great sensation. 
The whole thing was novel and exciting : first the recep- 
tion by a dozen purple episcopates in the Archbishop's 
palace, and then the opening of a Eoman Catholic col- 
lege by his Excellency. Your liberality would not quite 
come such a stretch as that. There were some thousands 
of people assembled. Some of the Protestants here are 
highly disgusted, but I highly approve. No sooner was 
this proceeding over than we received the dutiful answer 
to the address from the Commons, which was an echo of 
the Governor's speech, and a great triumph to him after 
all the abuse that has been lavished upon him. The an- 
swer has been carried through the House by overwhelming 
majorities. After that we received a quantity more of 
purple ecclesiastics. All this time I had been in full 
dress, white tie, &c. Then to the House till dinner, when 
I dined with Mr Primrose, Lord Eosebery's brother, who 
afterwards had a ball, where I remained till pretty late. 


Not the best preparation in the world for our own ball 
at Spencer Wood to-night ; but I shall cut some of that 
by staying in the House to see the Eeciprocity Treaty 
through. It was read last night for the first time. How- 
ever, the Governor says the success of the ball depends 
upon me. I have introduced 'four new dances into Que- 
bec. What an enviable reputation to have, and how 
astonished my Edinburgh friends would be ! and yet I 
don't care nearly so much for gaiety as I used to do. Only 
whatever I undertake I like to carry out with a will ; and 
if we are to leave Canada with a flare-up after eight years 
of the most successful administration that any Governor 
ever had, I will do my best." 

" Society here is really very agreeable," he adds. 
" There are no sets or jealousies, but everybody is on 
excellent terms and very good-natured." As usual, he 
was specially interested in one portion of society. I do 
not know if the peculiar institution hereafter described 
has found a place in any other record : " The girls are for 
the most part lively and pretty, with a deal of French in 
them, which prevents their having a taste for solid infor- 
mation, but makes up for it by giving them plenty of 
small talk and fascinating manners. I go upon the prin- 
ciple of dispensing my favours so liberally that my atten- 
tions cannot be said to be particular, though that is not at 
all the fashion. Every girl has what is called her muffin, 
some devoid, who never leaves her side, dances with her 
always when he is not sitting with her in a dark corner, 
and behaves as if he were engaged. This, however, is not 
the case, nor is it expected. It is quite an understood 
thing that he is her muffin and she his, not her future 
husband, and curiously enough no harm ever comes of it. 
Sometimes it ends in marriage, but never in anything else." 

There is a great deal About these young ladies in the 
letters, especially as his time draws towards an end ; and 
he becomes full of questions as to his conduct, whether 
he has kept up to his own standard, whether it would be 
possible for him to keep up to it if he stayed longer, and 
how his young successor, with whom he has had many 


confidences on the subject of religion sometimes feeling 
that his advices do the young man good, sometimes that 
his inconsistencies do him harm will be able to with- 
stand the many temptations of society. For Quebec 
society, with that delightful mixture of French ease and 
lightness, with the charms and frankness of the ladies, 
the good - humour and freedom and friendliness of all 
around, is sadly against serious thought : and as he half 
impels and half is impelled by his chief into the blaze of 
entertainment and gaiety which is wanted to make a bril- 
liant conclusion to Lord Elgin's administration, his doubts 
and tribulations grow more and more. " Lord E. says he 
never knows what I am at, at one moment going to the 
extreme of gaiety, at another to that of disgust and de- 
spondency. All he wishes is in a good-natured way to 
amuse people ; and he therefore can hardly sympathise 
with my reactions every now and then, which arise from 
my being too well amused myself. He sees my twinges 
of conscience, and asked me the other day whether I was 
going to lay all the sins I seemed so much oppressed 
with at his door ? At another he said, ' All these com- 
ments of yours upon our proceedings distress me very 
much. After all, we are only amusing people, and if you 
have got anything to repent of, I wish you'd wait and do 
it on board ship.' " Then after an outcry, which is not 
at all intended to be humorous, " Flesh and blood can't 
stand the temptation of such hosts of charming girls ! " 
the young secretary comments somewhat demurely as 
follows : 

" There is a class of sins which are very difficult to 
resist, because you cannot put your finger upon the exact 
point where they become sins. Now, for instance, a cer- 
tain degree of intimacy with young ladies is no harm ; 
and it is difficult to define where flirting begins, or what 
amount even of joking and laughing, though perfectly 
innocent, is not expedient, and one gets led imperceptibly 
on without feeling the harm that is being done to both 
parties until it is too late. As I told you before, I am not 
in any degree involved in anything : but I daresay I should 


be if I stayed ; or as an alternative, become more utterly 
heartless in those matters than I am already." 

These scruples being set to rest, or at least temporarily 
silenced by being put into words, he gives a most lively 
description of the setting in of winter, which he had 
much desired to see before leaving Canada a wish which 
was gratified by means of various unforeseen ministerial 
changes which delayed Lord Elgin's departure. Describ- 
ing these changes, and lamenting the disappointment to 
his eagerly expectant parents in consequence, he adds : 

" Meantime I am revelling in the first burst of winter 
and its attendant novelty. I would not have missed it 
for the world. My office window looks upon the Place 
d'Armes, a large square. On the one side is the platform 
overlooking the river, forming the promenade in summer ; 
on the other the main street, Parliament House, &c., op- 
posite gardens. The day is mild and calm, and the snow 
half a foot deep. Not a wheeled vehicle is to be seen. 
Cabstands all sleighs, no two alike in shape. Round the 
Place sleighs with tandems or pairs, full of ladies mufHed 
up in furs, with buffalo-robes streaming behind, dash about 
rapidly over the crisp snow, making a merry accompani- 
ment to its crunching with their bells, the occupants 
looking prettier than ever. Single men dashing about in 
swell turn-outs, from which I must say Bury with his 
blood horses bears the palm. They go round and round, 
cut out and in, and then dash away through the Fort 
gates into the snow-clad country. With a pleasant com- 
panion nothing could be more exhilarating. Some of the 
faster young ladies are picked up by the most insinuating 
young men and driven Ute-a-Ute, so snug and confiding. 
I had a charming muffin yesterday. She is engaged to 
be married, so don't be alarmed. By changing every day 
you are quite safe. It does not do to be particular ; be- 
sides, as you may suppose, the nicest won't go even witli 
their most particular friends unless there is a picnic or 
a sleighing party, though why it is more correct or less 
dangerous then, I cannot exactly say. 


"From the platform the scene is extraordinary; the 
river full of floes of floating ice, which collects in the 
bays, and surges up into fantastic masses. People cross 
in canoes, and when they get to a floe, the boatmen jump 
on it and haul the canoe over, the occupants remaining 
still. I watch them from the platform. The most excit- 
ing part of sleighing is turning corners. Unless you know 
the dodge you are sure to upset, but it is only into the 
snow, and no harm is done. I have not been upset yet, 
and always go like the wind." 

One of the most pleasant things in these letters is the 
character always wholly admired, not always compre- 
hended the remarkable figure of the chief, hie Excel- 
lency, who is sometimes called, in puzzled familiarity, " a 
queer fish," but whose boundless ability, his skill, his 
command of every resource, his plans never fully ex- 
pounded, gradually dawning by degrees on the young 
disciple's brilliant intelligence, his sympathy yet authority, 
come out before us in a hundred minute touches under 
the hand of the writer, all unconscious that he is making 
any such portrait in the letter he dashes off to his mother 
punctual as the post, before he touches his official work. 
It is, of course, imperfect, and in a manner accidental; 
but it is admirably vivid and true. I am not aware if 
any memoir of the late Lord Elgin has been given to the 
public ; but if not, the letters I have quoted would afford 
much admirable material to assist in such a memorial. 



LAURENCE returned home early in 1855, to find his 
parents awaiting him in London. His own prospects, 
however, were so unsettled the engagement with Lord 
Elgin terminating on the withdrawal of the latter from 


office, though to be renewed at a later period that no 
definite home was established in London ; and the family, 
thus reunited, would seem to have contented themselves 
in lodgings, now in one street, now in another, not a very 
comfortable mode of life. And it is apparent that the 
Chief-Justice of Ceylon, accustomed to so full an existence 
and to occupy a very important position in his own sphere, 
felt himself considerably out of his element in London, 
where at first he had not even the comfort of a club where 
he could meet his old friends, these institutions being less 
necessities of life in those days than they are now. And 
not unnaturally Laurence, after his brief but brilliant 
experience of public life, found it difficult to content him- 
self without occupation and with the doubtful prospects 
before him. His mind returned with a bound to its 
former aspirations in respect to the Crimea, and to the 
plan he had conceived of making a diversion in the 
Caucasus, and thus drawing away the attention of Eussia 
to a country which it was of so much importance to her to 
overawe and secure. He had declined an offer made to 
him to remain in Canada as secretary to Sir Edmund 
Head, the successor of Lord Elgin, in the spirit of his own 
axiom that a man who means to climb a ladder does not 
establish himself on the lowest step. I am told that he 
also declined a small governorship in the West Indies, 
probably, if this is true, for the same reason; but to 
remain inactive, waiting upon fortune, was impossible to 
him. The plan which he had reluctantly resigned in order 
to accompany Lord Elgin now came back to his mind 
with double force ; and he soon found an opportunity to 
explain and press his views. " I proposed," he says, " to 
Lord Clarendon that I should undertake a mission to 
Schamyl, for the purpose, if possible, of concocting some 
scheme with that chieftain by which combined operations 
could be carried on, either with the Turkish contingent, 
which was then just organised by General Vivian, or 
with the regular Turkish army." He never ceased to 
believe that great things could have been done had this 
plan been carried out, that the fall of Kars might have 
been averted, and most sensible assistance given in the 


carrying out of all the objects of the war. He had 
scarcely got back to London, plunging again into all the 
excitement of that momentous time when the Crimea and 
the struggle going on there was the universal topic, than 
he flashed forth a pamphlet on this subject, calling the 
general attention to his project. Perhaps Lord Clarendon, 
then no doubt harassed with many suggestions, con- 
sidered it the easiest way at last of getting rid of the 
eager young man, whose arguments were unanswerable 
and his perseverance boundless, to send him off to the 
heart of the diplomatic strife at Constantinople, and thus 
transfer the trouble of settling the question to other 
shoulders than his own. "He determined to send me 
with a letter to Lord Stratford de Eedcliffe, authorising 
him to send me to Daghestan, in the Eastern Caucasus, 
where Schamyl had his stronghold, for the purpose of 
making certain overtures to him, at his lordship's own 

It is difficult not to believe that Lord Clarendon's 
sanction to the journey which Laurence was so eager to 
undertake was more in the nature of a permission, ac- 
companied by an introduction to Lord Stratford, than 
anything more authoritative. The young man, however, 
took it in a weightier sense, and set out in the highest 
spirits, accompanied by his father, whose delight in escap- 
ing from the uncongenial crowd of London, and in the 
prospect of exciting scenes and experiences, seems to have 
been even greater than that of his son. A compunction 
momentarily clouded the mind of Laurence at the thought 
of the mother left alone behind, with the chief objects of 
her existence both gone: but he comforted himself with 
the thought of the visits to kind friends which she was 
about to pay in the meantime, and the ministrations of 
a kind and dear Lucy, a favourite niece, who would con- 
sole her ; and also with an immediate effort to keep her 
amused by the most lively account of the journey, and 
everything that he and " Papa " said and did. Papa 
appears in an altogether delightful light in this history. 
Of course he picks up the greatest snobs on board to 
be kind to, as Lady Oliphant will understand he keeps 


his end of the table full of jokes and mirth, he enjoys 
everything with the freshness of a boy, and with still 
more delightful freedom and pleasure in novelty than 
even his son experiences. Laurence, indeed, becomes for 
the time middle-aged and serious in presence of his 
father's insouciance and charming boyishness. The pair 
take the steamer at Marseilles for Constantinople, and 
find themselves at once drifted into the war atmosphere. 
With them in the ship is " Captain Speke of the Turkish 
Contingent, formerly East India Company's service, who 
was speared in nine places on the coast of Africa, where 
Burton, with whom he was, was also wounded and their 
other companions killed. Of course he is dying to go 
back and try again, but is going to take a turn to 
Sebastopol first." This is all that Laurence says of the 
great traveller. It is curious thus to meet undistinguished, 
before the events that made him famous, passing across 
our vision for a moment, so well-known a figure. Another 
of more heroic mould, Gordon, Laurence encountered in 
the trenches before Sebastopol, but unfortunately there is 
no record of that meeting. 

Lord Stratford was not found at Constantinople, and 
the travellers accordingly followed him in the blazing 
August weather, up the Bosphorus to Therapia. The 
little steamer, which now fusses so noisily yet so peace- 
fully from village to village along the shores of that 
glorious strait, breathed nothing but gunpowder in those 
exciting days. "The occupants of the boat were all 
Crimean officers; none we actually knew, but we found 
plenty of mutual acquaintance. It was exactly like 
dining at a mess. Old friends met and talked over their 
wounds and their dangers some boys of seventeen who 
have gone through the whole thing, and were only anxious 
to get back. One man would come and say, ' How are 
you, old fellow?' and the old fellow, not remembering 
him, would add, ' Were you not in the night attack ? ' 
and then they would talk over old scenes, not having seen 
each other since parted by cannon-balls on that eventful 
night." At the house of the English ambassador at 
Therapia, Laurence was received with great kindness by 


Lord Stratford, who talked to him much about the war, 
taking the eager young diplomatist into his confidence, 
and no doubt glad to hear from a new witness so 
brilliantly observant and free from officialism what was 
said and thought at home, where already he had been 
misrepresented. The ambassador ended by inviting his 
visitor to go with him to the seat of war, whither he 
was just about to start in his yacht in order to bestow 
sundry decorations. Amid all his kindness and con- 
fidential talk, he would not, however, say anything about 
the mission to Schamyl, which Lord Clarendon had left 
" to his lordship's discretion." Disappointed by this, yet 
pleased and flattered by the place thus offered to him 
among Lord Stratford's immediate surroundings, Laurence 
resolved to accept his offer. " On the way," he says, " I 
shall have plenty of time for imbuing Lord S. with my 
own notions, and if he does not succumb to my diplomacy 
in the end, I shall consider myself too stupid to cope 
with Schamyl, and be consoled." 

" As I look out of my bedroom window," he adds, " I 
see nothing but confusion ; the whole quay covered with 
French troops grouped round their knapsacks, and going 
off in boats to the steamers, while bullock-waggons con- 
taining heavy baggage wheel along the water's edge, and 
busy steamers of all sizes are passing up and down the 
Bosphorus in such numbers that people never look at 
them." The traveller of the present day, who has felt 
how much the lovely peacefulness of those beautiful 
shores is enhanced by the stream of vessels of all de- 
scriptions that go up and down from the Black Sea to the 
more peaceful waters of Marmora and the busy port of 
the Golden Horn, will be able to form some small idea of 
the commotion and excitement of that moment, when the 
white sails and peaceful fleets of trade were swept out of 
the straits, and the transports and ships of war, bound to 
and fro to replenish the ranks with fresh troops and bring 
back the wounded and fever-stricken, were all that were 
visible. Yet even in the midst of this absorbing com- 
motion, the young self-sent envoy, palpitating with eager 
projects, had time for affectionate and serious thought. 



"I need not say that you are never absent from my 
thoughts, in the midst of all rny plans more than ever ; 
feeling how deeply you are interested in every one of them, 
and above all feeling how anxious you must be. I find 
myself, therefore, referring to you mentally at every 
moment, and the only thing that gives me anxiety is 
the fear that you may be so worried and anxious as to 
interfere with your health. Just in proportion as my 
present life is one to cause you anxiety do I constantly 
recur to you. When I was gay and thoughtless in Canada, 
I did not think half so much about you as now when I 
have got more weighty matters in hand. I hope you 
quite see the propriety of not missing such an opportunity 
of conferring with Lord S. as my voyage with him to the 
Crimea offers. I have been lying on my back for an hour 
reading and praying. I think it has done me good and 
strengthened my faith. I feel ready for anything that 
God may see fit, for disappointment, I hope, as well as 

It is impossible not to feel that now and then his 
mother's call upon him for spiritual confidences, and a 
report of all his thoughts, gave the young man a certain 
impatience, and that he satisfied her desire for information 
as to the state of his soul, sometimes with utterances 
which must have startled her, sometimes with attempts, 
not very successful, to fall into the more ordinary vein 
of religious musings. And there is always apparent a 
little relief in getting back to the things of this world, 
which it was more easy to treat. " I hope to get Sir E. 
Lyons and General Simpson to see the propriety of a 
Circassian expedition," he says, carried away from his 
halting religious revelations to the more eager tide of 
his hopes, " and if so, shall insist upon being accompanied 
by a strong military force, which will give a weight to my 
representations which would be wanting to a solitary 
agent." It is evident from the uncertainty and anxiety of 
these utterances that Lord Clarendon's recommendation 
to Lord Stratford must have been more a favourable 
one of a remarkable and highly gifted young man, than 


anything in the shape of official instructions to the 

His next letter is dated from Kamiesch Bay, and gives 
a curious sensation of the very atmosphere and breath of 
war. " Long before we saw land we saw the vivid flashes 
of the guns, and heard the reports when we got nearer : 
a heavy cannonade was kept up all night. Very curious," 
he adds, " to be rigging out in ball costume (to dine in the 
Eoyal Albert, the Admiral's ship) to the sound of the 
booming guns of the bombardment. After dinner we 
watched the bombardment from the stern of the vessel, 
sometimes the flashes rapid and close together, and the 
noise of the cannonading very great; at others it died 
away for a time." With their glasses they could see the 
shells whizzing through the air, falling in the trenches, 
and the rush of the soldiers in all directions. .Few spec- 
tacles could be so exciting. In the meantime Laurence 
had given the ambassador his pamphlet to read, with the 
opinions of which Lord Stratford expressed his full agree- 
ment. " He has done everything but promise to send me 
to Schamyl," the young man adds; "that he staves off, 
and says he will think about it, &c. Though he can 
show no good objections, still he does not take to the 
scheme kindly." Laurence was not yet experienced 
enough to understand how different a thing it was to 
silence a statesman in argument, so that he could " show 
no good objections," and to get him to take in hand a 
visionary though hopeful scheme. 

Arrived at the camp, Laurence describes to his mother 
the innumerable lines of tents, some miserable indeed, 
some comfortable enough, in which he finds as best he 
can a friend here and there, and snatches an exciting 
taste of this life of the camp, in which every pulse of 
existence was at the highest pressure, all the more stormy 
and strong in their beating from the constant disaster 
about, and the frequent carrying past of strings of dying 
and wounded men. The perpetual sound of the guns soon 
becomes familiar. " Since I have been here there has not 
elapsed a single minute, either by day or night, in which I 
have not heard the report of cannon." One of his objects 


while he roams among the lines is to find a tent for 
"Papa," from whom he has been obliged to separate in 
consequence of his invitation to accompany the ambassador, 
but who followed him to the camp, and remained a most 
interested and excited spectator of the extraordinary life 
there, after Laurence himself had hurried on to further 
and more wonderful experiences still. 

On board the Koyal Albert, on the occasion of the din- 
ner-party which took place, while sky and water thrilled 
with the extraordinary sensation of shot and shell, Lau- 
rence had met the Duke of Newcastle, who had planned 
some sort of visit to the Circassian coasts, and who imme- 
diately invited the young man to join him. It is curious 
to note how, as soon as he appears on the scene, this irre- 
sistible young man connects himself with all that is high- 
est and most influential near him. He seems to have kept 
the Duke's proposal in reserve as a sort of pis oiler, not 
without a practical consciousness that an invitation from 
an ex-Minister and influential political personage was not 
one to be neglected, yet more intent upon his own plan 
than on any kind of social promotion. At last, scarcely 
because convinced by Laurence's reasoning, yet perhaps 
yielding a little to the influence of his strong conviction, 
Lord Stratford sent Mr Alison, one of his own staff, on a 
special mission to Circassia in H.M.S. Cyclops, with in- 
structions to confer with Mr Longworth the agent in 
charge of British interests along the coast-line, where 
many forts and villages had been taken from the Russians 
upon the possibilities and advantages of a diversion 
such as was proposed ; and, as Laurence believed, to con- 
sult as to the practicability of his own anxiously desired 
mission to Schamyl. As this latter, however, never came 
to anything, it may be permitted to the reader to believe 
that the ambassador was glad to occupy the eager young 
applicant by packing him off in attendance upon this en- 
voy, and thus keeping him amused at a distance while 
grave questions were being discussed. 

Laurence set out with high hopes, thinking that at last 
his somewhat quixotic and adventurous purpose was in a 
fair way of being carried out. And for the next three 

"LOTS OF TIN." 101 

months he was kept cruising about the coast, now feeling 
his object almost within his reach, now further off from it 
than ever. He was in the midst of a little group of offi- 
cials who were by no means sorry to have the help of his 
ready wit, and who enjoyed his cheerful company, but 
there is no appearance that his plan was ever taken into 
serious consideration at all. As time went on, and doubts 
on this subject began to cross his mind, he took great 
pains to justify himself to his mother for going on with 
an adventure which was evidently very pleasing in itself, 
though it did not carry out his intentions. "Besides 
writing to you," he says, " I have got the ' Times ' to write 
long letters to. I look upon this as a great duty, because 
it brings me in lots of tin, and it is the only way I can 
justify my present life. I feel that in no other way could 
I be making so much money by my own efforts." This 
most excellent reason for continuing in a position so agree- 
able to him Laurence puts forth, however, with so many 
repetitions, that we feel he is not himself quite satisfied 
with it, perceiving no doubt that, notwithstanding the 
" lots of tin/' and the still more consolatory sense that he 
was the only Englishman who could give the British public 
any real information on the subject which he felt to be so 
important a one, he was not at all carrying out the great 
plan of public benefit and private ambition with which he 
had started. 

Amid all the adventures and excitements of this strange 
life, however, he always found time to gratify his mother 
by that report of his more serious thoughts, and the 
progress of his spiritual life, for which she was always 

" I am constantly thinking about these things," he says. 
" I am afraid, however, I generalise too much, and am 
rather getting into a way of overlooking ceremonies. I 
cannot but think that if a man tries to act honestly and 
uprightly and singly, the details of the thing are of com- 
paratively little importance ; but then I also find that you 
need the details as helps. It is a great mistake to attach 
the importance we do to the inherent virtue of these de- 


tails, and misleads us. Let every man find out which 
details help him most, and adhere to them. Looked on in 
this light, I think Sunday is a valuable detail. I look 
upon your letters as a detail to help me : the day I get 
them is much more of a Sunday to me than any other. 

" I feel strongly the love of God for me, and thankful- 
ness to Him, and great fear of offending Him. I only do 
not always think that I am offending Him, when you and 
others would think that I did. The more I think of Him, 
the more glorious does His service appear, and I dread 
that I might fall into sin, and am sorry that I do not keep 
a strict watch on my conversation, and I do not think He 
hides Himself from me when I pray." 

" When one is knocking about and seeing so much," he 
adds in another letter, " one does not always, when the 
mail is going out, feel able to write seriously or thought- 
fully. Besides, when I am happy, I am sorry to say I am 
more contented with myself, and I often think it is diffi- 
cult to know how much of one's anxiety about the future 
depends upon one's troubles in the present : when these 
are removed, one is apt to think less of one's soul. Inno- 
cent amusement is the most deadening of anything. 
Frantic gaiety brings its stings of conscience, but calm 
enjoyment produces a permanent kief which should be 

It is seldom that so keen a piece of self-observation as 
the above comes from the pen of a young man enjoying to 
the full, as he was doing, all the delights of a life of ad- 
venture. He adds, on another occasion, some remarks on 
the subject of the conversion of a friend to Eoman Catholic 
belief, which throws a light of another kind on after-in- 
cidents of his own life. " It is because he has not a strong 
will of his own that he wants to be dictated to on points 
of faith. Whately says it is the greatest exercise of man's 
private judgment to submit it to another. It is only the 
exercise of a weak judgment." These are very strange 
words to come from one who in after-years put this abne- 
gation of judgment to so strong a proof. He describes 
himself as always having had "a mania for finding out 


what people believe," and holding theological discussions 
with many of the people with whom he is thrown into 
contact to this end. " He has a creed of his own," he 
says of one friend ; " but, like most people, has never really 
and philosophically considered the Bible." In another he 
comments on the " calm Episcopalianism " of a man who 
contents himself with externals, and does not trouble him- 
self with thinking, a state of mind for which the lively 
spectator finds a great deal to be said. 

Thus he occupied the time of inaction, cruising in the 
Cyclops, running errands from one port to another, corn- 
plaining occasionally of want of occupation, yet in con- 
stant activity, picking up every scrap of information that 
came in his way, and resolving to learn Circassian, to per- 
fect his studies in Turkish, and generally to qualify him- 
self as the only Englishman thoroughly acquainted with 
the subject. At this time he was still certain that Cir- 
cassia was the key of the position, and that the current of 
the war would necessarily flow thither as the best way of 
effectually crippling and checking Kussian advance. So 
far as he himself was concerned, his idea was that, if he 
knew the language, and " got up the country thoroughly," 
Government would not be able to do without him, " either 
here or in Parliament"; while he always continued to 
hold the conviction that, but for the premature conclusion 
of the war, Circassia would certainly have been the next 
point of operations, and the most effectual. 

It gave a little renewed impetus to his thoughts and 
plans when, first, Omar Pasha, at the head of a Turkish 
force, supplemented by English artillery, appeared on the 
scene; and secondly, the Duke of Newcastle, still bent 
upon some brief expedition upon Circassian territory. 
There were many consultations between the Turkish gen- 
eral and the English officials, in which Laurence took a 
part, pleased, as he says, " to have to give my opinion as 
an independent swell " ; and for a time it seemed possible 
that Omar might take the matter into his own hands, and 
that the mission to Schamyl, or if not to Schamyl, at least 
to Schamyl's brother-in-law, the Naib of the Western 
Caucasus, might still come into effect. But Omar changed 


his mind at the last moment, when the eager young would- 
be envoy was actually in the saddle, and the only real 
result of his schemes was a hunting expedition of a few 
days with the Duke of Newcastle's party, into the country 
which Laurence had so hoped to revolutionise. In his 
account of this he says : " The Circassians are delighted to 
receive us ; but it is not easy to make a duke go ahead 
enough to please me." And indeed there is something 
almost ludicrous in the idea of the grave middle-aged 
statesman, weary with the cares of office and the troubles 
of life, pricked on by this fiery boy in the full tide of his 
own young unreasoning ambition and impulses, always 
endeavouring to push his leader forward, and convert the 
hunting-party into a political mission. 

" Of course, as every step is on ground never before tra- 
versed by Europeans, every step was interesting ; and the 
scenery was beautiful, but the roads dreadful, up almost 
perpendicular mountains and along the brink of precipices. 
The weather was heavenly all the time, and I would have 
given the world to go over the snow mountains, instead of 
contenting ourselves with getting to the base of them." 
The party had, however, a grande chasse at Prince Michael's, 
in which they did not kill much, but found it " very good 
fun." " I live a most vagrant life," he adds ; " I just sleep 
where I happen to be when night comes on, one night 
on board the Highflyer (the Duke's ship), the next on 
board the Cyclops, the next in Prince Michael's palace or 
shooting-box, the next in a hut." I have been told that 
during this period, when the eager young man was strain- 
ing at his leash, eager for fun and occupation, he proposed 
to the captain of the Cyclops to make a sudden raid into 
a certain nook in shelter of an island, where he had dis- 
covered that a Russian man-of-war had put in secretly for 
repairs, replying to the sailor's remonstrance that he 
would be disobeying his orders by doing so with a " What 
would that matter ? Everything is pardoned to success." 

However, dukes and schemes of all kinds passed away, 
and there remained only Omar Pasha witli his army, 
still holding out the hope of that campaign which 
Laurence had always looked forward to as the most 


effectual step that could be taken. He set out with the 
vanguard in great excitement and delight, slightly tem- 
pered by compunctions as to his mother's alarms, and fears 
lest this should be thought something very different from 
the hopes with which he started ; yet much consoled by 
the letters to the ' Times,' which brought in " lots of tin," 
and kept the country supplied with information which no 
other Englishman could give. The Turks proved them- 
selves excellent soldiers, and the scattered Eussian forces 
left in Circassia fell back before them, only attempting an 
engagement on the banks of the Ingour river, in which 
Laurence was more actively engaged than he liked at first 
to confess. His first account to his mother gives the im- 
pression of great caution on his part. He "did not expose 
himself at all " taking refuge in a hut, upon the roof of 
which, it is true, the bullets fell like rain, but where he 
professes to have been quite safe. The only moment of 
risk was "when I got your letter of llth October, which 
was given me on the field by an officer just arrived from 
Constantinople, and in which you wonder when and where 
I would receive it. There was a pretty brisk shower of 
missiles flying about, and I lay down under a bank and 
read it. On one side our great guns were blazing away, 
on the other the wounded were being carried past. Alto- 
gether it was about as odd a place to receive a letter in 
as you could have chosen. However, be thankful that I 
never was better in my life, barring that I have had noth- 
ing to eat for thirty-six hours except your letter (which I 
devoured) and a biscuit." 

In another letter he is led on to mention " my battery," 
and this elicits the following anecdote : 

"By the by, I never told you I had made a battery. 
Skender Pasha, the officer in command, thought I was 
an officer from my having a regimental Turkish fez cap 
on, and asked me if I knew where a battery was to 
be made about which he had orders. It so happened 
that I did, because I had been walking over the ground 
with Simmons in the morning; so Skender told off a 
working party of two hundred men, with two companies 


of infantry and two field-pieces, put them under my 
command, and sent me oft' to make the battery. It 
was about the mid.dle of a pitch-dark night, slap under 
the Russian guns, about two hundred yards from them. 
Luckily they never found us out, we worked so quietly. 
I had to do everything, line the wood with sharp- 
shooters, put the field-pieces in position, and place the 
gabions. Everybody came to me for orders in the 
humblest way. In about three hours I had run up 
no end of a battery, without having a shot fired at me, 
while Simmons, 1 who was throwing up a battery a few 
hundred yards lower down, had a man killed. Both 
these batteries did good service two days after. The 
difficulty was, none of the officers with me could speak 
anything but Turkish. Afterwards Skender Pasha was 
speaking to Simmons about it, complaining of the want 
of interpreters, and instancing the English officer who 
made the battery not having an interpreter; so Sim- 
mons said, 'Ce n'est pas un officier, ce n'est qu'un 
simple gentleman qui voyage,' which rather astonished 
old Skender. I think Simmons looks on the 'Times' 
correspondent with a more favourable eye since that 

"I assure you it is quite an act of self-denial on 
my part leaving the army. I have no doubt I could 
get a command if I stayed ; but don't be in the least 
alarmed. I have not the remotest intention of turning 
soldier, and only did that for fun and because of the 
consequences ; besides, I knew if we worked quietly they 
would never find us out. They were rather astonished 
at daybreak to see a battery mounting a couple of guns 
staring them in the face, and began to pound away 
at it with their rifles ; but it was too late, and they got 
as good as they gave. Simmons had described to me in 
the morning exactly where the battery was to be made, 
and how to make it. So the whole thing turned out very 

In case the mother at home should think that those 

1 Now General Sir J. Lintorn Simmons, G.C.M.G, 


fortunate and fortuitous accidents which made it happen 
that Laurence should know all about the battery, and 
be thus able to act upon an emergency, implied any 
inclination to risk himself, he hastens to reassure her on 
this point. " I hope you give me credit for prudence 
now," he says, " and will trust me. I assure you I was 
in a horrible fright of getting shot, entirely on your 
account, and I don't recommend a man to come to fight 
if he has got anybody at home who loves him. I don't 
think he can do his duty. If it had not been for you, 
I should have taken an active part in the affair. Alto- 
gether, though it was in some respects a horrible ex- 
perience, I am glad to have seen it." This was the 
only real passage of arms in the whole campaign, and 
a long pause ensued at Sugdidi, where Laurence's reports 
turn again to less exciting matters, and to his own 
thoughts. The external life of the camp is thus graphi- 
cally described: 

"I am very jolly here in Sugdidi such a pretty 
place only we can't plunder. It is a great temptation. 
I don't wonder at soldiers going to all lengths. One 
does not feel it is a bit wrong. I put a fine cock in 
my pocket this morning. I would have given his owner 
anything he asked if I could have found him; but if 
we don't forage we get nothing but rice and biscuits 
to live on. I should not plunder anything but food, 
and that I don't call anything. I am not sure," he 
adds, "that I am not happier, occupied as my mind 
is now. It is when I have time to think much that 
doubts arise. When I just say my prayers and read 
a text earnestly, and then go and gallop about and am 
in hard healthful exercise, I feel much better in mind 
and body. I feel my mind much more innocent and 
less bothered and perplexed; but I am afraid this is 
wrong, and that one's occupations ought to be God's work, 
and not what papa calls playing one's self." 

I may be permitted to add one more of the common- 
sense and reasonable views of religious life, in opposition 


at once to the conventionality of many of the so-called 
evangelical tenets, and of much of his own after-thoughts, 
which are to be found scattered through these letters. 
"I wish," he says (a desire in which I am unable to 
follow him), "that the whole Bible was like David's 
compositions, and that such texts as 'If I pleased men 
I should not be the servant of Christ,' were not in it." 

"It appears to me that to be a faithful servant of 
God, it is not necessary that one should be displeasing 
to His creatures; and that, constituted as they are, he 
pleases them most who, by an upright, straightforward 
conduct, pleases God most. The world does not like 
wicked men, and those points in which Christians dis- 
please the world are those which are involved in the 
peculiarities of the system, so to speak, which do not 
really affect a man's moral conduct. . . . There is not 
a single thing which my reason tells me I ought to do, 
which if I did people would find fault with. I am not 
in the least ashamed to say, even in the most dissipated 
society, that I believe immorality, which is regarded as 
the most venial of all sins, is wrong ; but I am ashamed 
to say that I think going out shooting on Sunday is 
wrong, simply because I cannot understand why it 
should be, though I admit that it may be a valuable 
exercise of self-denial occasionally, and that Sunday may 
be what I said the other day a very useful detail. I 
am afraid you will think from this that I am in an 
unsatisfactory state of mind ; and so I am chiefly, I 
think, because I do not feel satisfied with holding views 
different from many who I think are spiritually en- 
lightened. These, at least, are my camp thoughts, and 
you asked me always to write what I was thinking. But 
you may imagine mine is not a life now to foster thought ; 
and if I had never led any other, I daresay I should have 
been as good an Episcopalian as Ballard, 1 and perhaps he 
is on that account the happier of the two." 

1 Colonel John Archibald Ballard, C.B., commanding the artillery 
attached to Omar Pasha's army, with whom much of Oliphant's time was 
spent during this period, and for whom he had a high regard. 


I think very few writers on religious subjects have 
recognised the fact that many utterances in the Bible of 
this description relate to a totally different state of affairs 
from any existing among ourselves, and that a man who 
makes it apparent that he serves God truly is in no sense 
an unpopular man on that account. Indeed in most cases 
it is quite the reverse, and goodness is the best passport to 
universal respect. It pays, as Laurence would have said 
which is perhaps less acceptable to many minds than 
the idea that it naturally involves persecution. 

Here is another scrap which no doubt made the heart 
of the mother thrill with grateful pleasure, yet the over- 
powering sense of danger escaped. He has been describ- 
ing the shooting of a spy. 

" A single execution like this has far more effect upon 
me than when I see the ground strewn with dead bodies. 
One then somehow forgets they are men ; and when we 
had a little quiet rifle - shooting on the banks of the 
Ingour before the battle, I looked at the men opposite 
as if they had been deer, and adjusted our fellows' sights 
for them, and watched the effect of the shots without 
the slightest feeling of compunction. Once, when I was 
sketching the river, and a fellow took a pot-shot at me, I 
took a rifle to return it from a man near ; but then I 
remembered my promise to you, and his humanity, and 
crept away. The fellows Omar sent to sketch the river 
funked it; so I did a good deal in that line crawling 
about on rny hands and knees among the bushes, and 
flattering myself I was not seen. Whenever I was in- 
formed of this fact by the whizz of a Minie, I mizzled off 
to a safer place. I tell you all this instead of at the time, 
because the fighting is over ; and so you have no cause to 
fear a recurrence of this amusement. But it was very 
exciting, with the satisfaction, at the same time, of being 
really of use. It was really sketching under difficulties." 

Then the pendulum of thought swings backs again to 
those subjects of which his home letters are always full. 
He accuses himself over again of being moved by his 


present conditions at the moment, to piety or the reverse. 
When he is in trouble, he is seized with " a sulky fit of 
devotion." " Because, remember," he continues, " my re- 
ligion at those times is not of a happy character; but I 
am gloomy and disgusted when I am trying to go to 
religion for comfort. Somehow or other something ought 
to come of it all, for I am always thinking of the subject 
in some shape or other. My conscience is never satisfied 
with my conduct, nor my understanding with my belief, 
so that altogether I live in a state of internal conflict and 
argumentation ; and I would desire nothing more earnestly 
than to be a devoted Christian. I admit that it involves 
giving up much that I now cling to ; but I think I would 
not regret giving them up. The best prescription I can 
think of is to live a month with Ernest Noel ; intercourse 
with him seemed to do me more good than anything else." 
It is seldom that the conflicting thoughts of a young man 
are thus clearly, and with so little conventional restraint, 
laid before another. 

The campaign was brought to an end in the first place 
by the retreat of the Eussians, afterwards by the disastrous 
news of the fall of Kars, which there had still been 
a hope of recovering ; and finally, which was in the eyes 
of Laurence almost as great a disaster, by the sudden and 
unsatisfactory peace. And at last he is able to comfort 
his mother with news of his approaching home-coming, 
and of his projects for work and patience, and the con- 
viction that an established position of one kind or another 
must await him. " I do not think that, though my pros- 
pects are no more definite than they were, I shall be so 
miserable and unsettled. I feel more of a philosopher. 
I have satisfied myself about this question, and intend 
to be independent. I can write what I know and other 
people don't. If there is a general election, I shall cer- 
tainly try hard to get in, but I hate the idea of asking 
anybody for anything now. I think I can get on in spite 
of them." 

It was the very end of the year before Laurence got 
home from this brilliant, exciting, and entirely ineffectual 
journey. He had made many new acquaintances, both in 


places and people, and heard a great deal which he ex- 
pected to be superlatively useful to him, but which, except 
in so far as it supplied material for a book, was of scarcely 
any utility at all. But he was no nearer a definite mode 
of establishing himself in life than he had been when he 
set out. He returned after an illness caught in the wet 
and cold of the tents and hardships of the march, which 
was in reality a retreat, " not before the enemy but the 
weather," and attended by many depressing and wretched 
details, in the last days of 1855 or beginning of 1856. 
He came home in the vein I have quoted, determined to 
make his own way and ask nothing from anybody, and 
with his mind divided between the diplomatic service 
and Parliament a career towards which he had already 
directed his thoughts. I think it was during this period 
that he first contested the Stirling burghs, though without 
success ; but of this incident I find no details. 

This waiting, however, for something to turn up, Micaw- 
ber-like, as he himself describes it, was so little to his 
mind, that in the following summer he was again on the 
war-path, seeking employment, adventure, or whatever 
might befall him. Unfortunately (though perhaps it is 
as well for the space at my disposal), I have not succeeded 
in obtaining any of the letters of this period, so that it 
can only be traced through those recollections which he 
thought fit during his life to give to the public. From 
these it would appear that, notwithstanding all his philo- 
sophical resolutions, his impatience of his own want of 
progress soon reached a great height, and that he was 
ready for anything that involved movement and activity, 
finding himself no doubt at the same time more or less 
independent, so long as he had something novel and strange 
to tell, by reason of that connection with the 'Times,' 
which made the wildest wandering profitable. According- 
ly, he left England again in the course of the summer of 
1856, at first in company with the well-known Mr Delane 
of the ' Times/ to whom " I was able," he says, " to act as 
cicerone on our arrival at_New York," and whose enjoyment 
of the society and ever-abounding hospitality of that cap- 
ital was no doubt much enhanced by the popularity and 


universal acquaintanceship of his young companion, whose 
previous experiences as Lord Elgin's brilliant secretary 
were still recent. What the business was in which the 
young man was engaged, I am not aware ; but he speaks 
of it in a letter to Mr Leveson-Gower as likely to put a 
thousand pounds in his pocket. When this was accom- 
plished, Laurence went on upon his adventurous way, and, 
with a keen scent for excitement to come, turned his steps 
to the Southern States, with the idea, first, of making 
himself acquainted on the spot with the workings of 
slavery, as well as with the peculiar social conditions of 
that section of the American world. " From what I saw 
and heard," he says, " it was not difficult to predict the 
cataclysm which took place four years later, though the 
idea of the South resorting to violence was scouted in the 
North ; and when, upon more than one occasion, I ventured 
to suggest the possibility to Eepublicans, I was invariably 
met by the reply that I had not been long enough in 
the country to understand the temper of the people, and 
attached an importance it did not deserve to Southern 
' bounce.' " His visit to that old-new world of the planta- 
tions the patriarchal households and primitive innocent 
communities, bound by a hundred ties to their head, which 
every picture, even of the most eager Abolitionist char- 
acter, permits us to see in the slave-holding States, though 
neutralised by the horrible possibility of a traffic in human 
flesh and blood was full of interest to him. 

Laurence found his way as usual among "the best 
people," and his stay at New Orleans was " one of unquali- 
fied enjoyment." But it is a practical evidence of his ex- 
treme impatience with the as yet undetermined lines of 
his own life, that he should have been attracted by the 
idea of an expedition to which the nickname " filibuster," 
one of the most felicitous coinages of Americanism, was 
applied a word of nonsense, aptly expressing with humor- 
ous scorn, yet impartiality, the sound and fury, the big 
intention and pretence, of the modern pirate, half -swagger, 
half-serious meaning. That Laurence Oliphant, who was 
still well within the reach of good fortune at twenty-seven, 
and who was soon to fill a responsible and important place 


in actual diplomatic service, should have " accepted a free 
passage to Nicaragua in a ship conveying a reinforcement 
to Walker's army," and should have carried " strong per- 
sonal recommendations to that noted filibuster," is one of 
the most curious events in his career. This strange step 
was taken chiefly, no doubt, " for fun," as when he made 
his battery, but also a little, we can scarcely doubt, from 
feelings much more serious, and originating in one of those 
fits of partial despair and disgust with his surroundings, 
and the lack of advancement, which has been the cause of 
so many wild enterprises. Walker was requested by his 
agent, Mr Soule, in New Orleans, " to explain the political 
situation to me, in the hope that, on my return to Eng- 
land, I might induce the British Government to regard 
his operations with a more favourable eye than they had 
hitherto done. The fact that if I succeeded I was to be 
allowed to take my pick out of a list of confiscated hacien- 
das, or estates, certainly did not influence my decision to 
go, though it may possibly have acted as a gentle stimu- 
lant ; but I remember at the time having some doubts 
on the subject, from a moral point of view. I remember 
spending Christmas Day in high spirits at the novelty of 
this adventure upon which I was entering." The Christ- 
mas before he had been at Trebizond, just emerging from 
the hardships of Omar Pasha's campaign. But during all 
the vicissitudes of his Circassian adventures, he had more 
or less the prestige of a member of the British diplomatic 
service. Now, however, in strange contrast to that reflected 
dignity, he was setting forth on what was distinctly a 
piratical undertaking, amid a crew of armed adventurers, 
invaders, bent on conquest. It was a singular change, and 
one which we can scarcely suppose could sit easily upon 
his mind in moments of seriousness ; but the fun and 
novelty, with perhaps something of the underlying impa- 
tience and disgust of the ordinary which had driven him 
from London, carried the day. 

This adventure, however, was doomed to be but short ; 
and much in the way in which a naughty prince, in a ro- 
mance, would be arrested and conveyed back to his proper 
sphere, Laurence was shaken loose from his companions 



and carried off to his natural surroundings. When the 
filibuster ship came to the mouth of the San Juan river, 
its progress was impeded by " a British squadron lying at 
anchor to keep the peace," from one of the vessels of which 
a boat was soon pulling towards them. " A moment later 
Captain Cockburn, of H.M.S. Cossack, was in the captain's 
cabin making most indiscreet inquiries as to the kind of 
emigrants we were. It did not require long to satisfy 
him; and as I incautiously hazarded a remark which 
betrayed my nationality, I was incontinently ordered into 
his boat as a British subject, being where a British subject 
had no right to be. As he further announced that he was 
about to move his ship in such a position as would enable 
him, should fighting occur in the course of the night, 
to fire into both combatants with entire impartiality, I 
the less regretted this abrupt parting from my late com- 
panions, the more especially as, on asking him who com- 
manded the squadron, I found it was a distant cousin. 
This announcement on my part was received with some 
incredulity, and I was taken on board the Orion, an 80- 
gun ship carrying the flag of Admiral Erskine, to test 
its veracity, while Captain Cockburn made his report of 
the Texas and her passengers. As soon as the admiral 
recovered from his amazement at my appearance, he most 
kindly made me his guest, and I spent a very agreeable 
time for some days, watching the emigrants disconsolately 
pacing the deck." 

Thus our young man "fell on his feet" wherever he 
went, and instead of suffering at all for his wild and un- 
justifiable undertaking, found himself in excellent and 
amusing quarters, restored to all the privileges of his rank, 
the admiral's cousin at sea being as good for all purposes 
as a king's cousin ashore. The moral of which would 
seem to be that, when you have a habit of getting into 
risky positions, the best thing in the world is to belong to 
a good Scotch family of "kent folk," with relations in 
every department of her Majesty's service both at home 
and abroad. 

He would seem, however, though the letters fail at this 
period, to have been in a state of no small depression 


about his prospects, and more than usually sick of the un- 
congenial position of waiting till something should turn 
up, and besieging his official friends with applications, 
which is the usual position of a young man seeking 
advancement or at least was, before the public services 
were ruled by examinations as at present. That he should 
have made such an expedition at all is a proof at once of 
the extraordinary detachment and independence of mind 
which afterwards made his life so remarkable, and of 
great impatience and dissatisfaction with ordinary circum- 
stances, as well as of the love of adventure, which was 
always a leading trait in his character. He was so far 
independent that he had the means of moving about at his 
pleasure without any absolute necessity to work for daily 
bread, a fact which gives wings to impatience, and makes 
every sudden movement practicable. His hot impulses 
were, however, stayed by the excellent expedient of 
legitimate occupation a few months after his return from 
his filibustering ; and in the month of April 1857 he set 
out with his old friend and chief, Lord Elgin, on his 
mission to China, occupying the post of private secretary 
once more. 



IT is unnecessary here to enter further into the history of 
the operations in China than is wanted to explain the part 
which Laurence took in them. He has himself left a 
history of the mission and all its performances, in a nar- 
rative published immediately after its termination. Its 
importance in modern history was much greater than was 
even anticipated, seeing that it was not only the beginning 
of legalised and comprehensible dealings with China, but 
in some degree the means of discovering, diplomatically, 
and adding to the variety of Nature, the heretofore half 
fabulous, yet in reality most intelligent, wide-awake, and 
progressive, empire of Japan. The position of Laurence 


was still unofficial. He was not a recognised servant of 
the Foreign Office or member of the diplomatic service. 
Probably it was part of the disadvantage of his irregular 
education, and partly of those independent ways and opin- 
ions which had always been characteristic of him, that he 
never seems to have made any attempt to constitute him- 
self a regular member of this profession which would seem 
to have been so completely congenial to him. But there 
was still at that time an accidental character about that 
service, and chances for the man who was proved capable, 
which were probably much more attractive to him than 
the routine of a public functionary. 

I have been told by one of the other members of the 
expedition, Sir Henry Loch, then an attacM serving his 
apprenticeship in the service in which he now occupies 
so distinguished a position, that the first appearance of 
Oliphant among the group of young men in attendance 
upon the Minister was somewhat startling to those gilded 
youths. He began to talk, as they lounged about the 
deck with their cigars, of matters spiritual and mystical, 
singularly different from the themes that usually occupy 
such groups. They asked each other what strange com- 
rade they had here when they talked over the new addi- 
tion to their party. It would seem to have been the 
then quite new development of what, for want of a better 
name, people call spiritualism, or more vulgarly, spirit- 
rapping, which was the subject of the talk about the 
funnel in the soft tropical night. I find, however, no trace 
of this in the letters, which give a wonderfully clear view 
of what Laurence was thinking, and of the point in his 
religious history to which he had now. come which, as 
the reader will see, occupied his mind very much even 
amid all the excitements of the expedition. He would 
seem, during the interval between this and his former 
secretaryship in Canada, to have completely burst the 
strait bonds of his mother's evangelical views, then hold- 
ing him but lightly as it seems inevitable that a lively 
young mind awakening to demand a reason for everything 
should do : and had now come to something like a tenable 
foundation for his personal belief which differed much 


from that in which he had been trained, yet which he was 
very anxious to prove to be a most real rule of life. Thus 
the expedition, which was so brilliant and important, and 
out of the records of which he made a book so readable, 
interesting, and amusing, is associated in his private his- 
tory with the rising of religious thoughts and convictions 
which ripened in the monotony of the many intervals of 
waiting which came between the exciting episodes of his 
life. Nothing can be more curious than to see between 
the fighting and the exploring, which he enjoys like a 
schoolboy, always somehow finding himself in the front, 
always gay, amusing, and amused the student retired in 
his cabin, hearing nothing but the monotonous swish of 
the waves, and pondering the ways of God to man, and 
especially the mistaken, confusing, and derogatory inter- 
pretations given by all human systems of these wonder- 
ful ways. Sometimes his own views are very strikingly 
expressed ; but it is not necessary that the reader 
should agree with him in order to be interested in this 
curious second side of the versatile, delightful, gay, and 
adventurous young man, who was ready for everything 
the ball-room and the council -chamber and the smok- 
ing-room, while still most warmly attracted of all by the 
book of theology which awaited him all the time in his 

His parents would seem to have been established in the 
neighbourhood of London I imagine at Spring Grove, a 
house within reach of his uncle's house at Wimbledon 
when he left England ; and to his mother it was always 
like a rending asunder of soul and body to part with him. 
He sends her a note from the Indus, the steamer in which 
he had set out to join the mission at Alexandria, hoping 
that she is not letting herself be miserable. "There are 
numbers of partings going now," he writes, " and weeping 
parents going on shore ; so you are not alone." At Alex- 
andria, where the new overland route and the railway 
across the desert had just been put in operation, he does 
not enter into any details about the place, which was 
already familiar both to himself and his correspondent, 
but makes an amusing note on the subject of the train 


coming in from Cairo, "quite a sight." "There was a 
harem carriage, and Arabs were clinging like flies to all 
parts, crowding the roof, and even perched upon the 
buffers. They jumped off like frogs long before the train 
stopped. I believe a good many are killed monthly ; but 
they are cheap here, and certainly take kindly to steam 
locomotion." At Cairo "we go about in grand style, 
Lord Elgin in a state carriage, with four grey horses, and 
a whole posse of horsemen and running footmen, who at 
night carry blazing torches, making the whole procession 
very picturesque. We follow behind in two other of 
the Pasha's carriages, accompanied by sundry beys and 
swells." At Galle, where on their arrival the well-known 
place brought many recollections to the traveller's mind, 
they were met by the news of the breaking out of the 
mutiny in India, which, however, does not seem to have 
at once disturbed either the secretary or his chief, as after- 
records announce. The mission went on, with a faint fear 
that this new contingency might interfere with the public 
interest in China, but apparently no graver apprehensions : 
until further and worse news met them at Singapore, the 
next halting-place in their journey. 

Lord Elgin has always received great credit for changing, 
on his own responsibility, the destination of the troops who 
met him there the small expeditionary army, without 
the support of which his mission could do nothing and 
sending them on to India instead, thus affording the most 
valuable aid at an important moment. The extreme em- 
barrassment and difficulty brought upon himself by this 
step has, however, received little notice, magnanimity in 
such a matter being generally, like virtue, its own reward. 
Laurence takes, however, even this credit from his chief, 
by an intimation that the troops were ordered to India by 
Lord Canning, to the dismay of the plenipotentiary, thus 
deprived of his army. It is difficult to come to the exact 
truth even on such a public matter ; for I have been as- 
sured by another member of the mission, not only that 
Lord Elgin took the initiative, but that it was on the 
advice of himself, as knowing India, that his lordship did 
so ! There is, however, no doubt as to the next step, which 


was that Lord Elgin, finding his own position thus di- 
minished, and moved by the tremendous difficulty and 
danger of the crisis, himself followed the troops to Cal- 
cutta to give Lord Canning his support, and that, still more 
effectual, of a naval brigade from the Shannon and Pearl. 
That there was some policy in this movement, as well as 
a chivalrous postponement of the interests of his own 
mission, was perhaps more apparent at the time to the 
members of the mission, thus arrested, than it was to the 
general public. Lord Elgin was consoled by a patriotic 
address from the merchants of Singapore, whose interests 
were much concerned in the success of his expedition, yet 
who concurred wisely and sympathetically in the delay. 
As these excellent men were not of a literary turn, they 
had recourse to Lord Elgin's young secretary, who had 
already made himself universally popular in the commun- 
ity, to write their address for them, a circumstance which 
did not in the least detract from its perfectly genuine 
character, but which Laurence related with much amuse- 
ment to his mother at home. 

Nothing more self-denying than the step thus taken 
could have been. It involved not only the absence of all 
the prestige surrounding a splendid expedition, but the 
surrender of the tine ship and comfortable quarters pro- 
vided for the envoy and his staff, and much miserable 
uncertainty, delay, and humiliation. And though they 
were received at Calcutta on their arrival with the great- 
est enthusiasm, the secretary's letters do not convey the 
idea that the magnanimous visitor had any great recom- 
pense for his sacrifice. " He scarcely sees a soul, and leads 
a dreary life in that dreary pile," says the young man, who is 
for his own part somewhat astonished to see the calm of 
Calcutta, the usual show of beauty and fashion on the or- 
dinary promenade, and the usual hospitalities going on a 
thing, no doubt, inevitable, but always jarring upon the 
nerves of the spectator. He himself, however, as a specta- 
tor, shared this calm. There is no appearance in his letters 
of excitement, though he was surprised by the ordinary 
look of everything around him. In the same house in which 
he was lodged were two ladies lately escaped at the risk of 


their lives, and under remarkable circumstances, on the 
eve of a massacre ; but who drove out with himself and a 
friend in their buggies for the evening drive as if nothing 
had happened curious composure of human nature, which 
assimilates the most wonderful events, and takes tragedy 
itself into the common current of every day ! 

The Chinese mission, however, were outsiders, and had 
nothing to do personally with the Indian crisis. And 
when they returned again to the scene of their own duties 
humbly in a P. & 0. steamer the Ava without any of 
the pomp of the splendid man-of-war, to kick their heels 
in Hong-Kong and wait until a detachment of 1500 
soldiers should be sent to them from England, to fill the 
place of the 5000 men, soldiers and sailors together, whom 
they had parted with to India, it is little wonder if they 
were discouraged. The excitement of a great sacrifice is 
apt to have a contre-coup of vexation and depression. " We 
have sunk into such insignificance, and are in such a fix 
without an army," Laurence wrote on his return to Hong- 
Kong, " nor are the speeches of Sir C. Wood and other 
members of the Government very encouraging. How they 
expect Lord Elgin to carry out the same policy without 
any army which he was instructed to do with one, is not 
very clear." He adds, with a little amusing malice, "I 
have one consolation, that you will be much more relieved 
thinking of me living cooped up in a ship in harbour for 
the next three months, where there are neither women 
nor Chinese, than if I were doing anything else." It is 
apparent throughout that Lady Oliphant largely shared 
what is supposed to be a general feeling with mothers, 
against the intrusion of love into the hearts of their sons. 
She upbraids him sometimes as being heartless, when some 
instance of inadvertent fascination on Laurence's part 
rouses her pity for the lady whom he has loved and ridden 
away. Indeed it would appear to have been the truth 
that our young diplomat, always addicted to making him- 
self agreeable, was still more so where ladies were con- 
cerned ; and, whether by means of polkas or theological 
discussions, was wont to work considerable havoc upon his 
way through the world. , His mother is glad to hear that 


he is in a place where such intercourse is impracticable ; 
but Laurence himself does not like it. It is to be said for 
him, however, that he always informs her of his amuse- 
ments in this way, keeping her, no doubt, in a flutter of 
alarm which he was apt to enjoy. 

Yet with all this, these letters, which are so confidential, 
so full of the comradeship and equality which is rare be- 
tween parents and children (there was, as I have said, 
only some eighteen years' difference in their age), so free 
in discussion and remark continue to be filled above 
everything else with his religious views and feelings : the 
revelation of what he has come to in the way of conviction 
after much struggling, and tortures of doubt and his in- 
dignant disapproval of the hackneyed types of Christianity 
with which he is acquainted. His first letter on this sub- 
ject is in answer to an expression of much dissatisfaction 
on her part as to his views. 

" HONG-KONG, 4th July [1857]. 

" All that related to J. pained me much, but so did that 
which related to myself. I thought you understood that 
it was no obstinacy on my part which compels me, before 
adopting a faith, to judge of the merits of its claim by the 
light God has given me. It is no light thing attributing 
to the Deity a work containing much that appears deroga- 
tory to His dignity. Nor is there any means whatever of 
knowing whether it is His or not, except by an exercise of 
the means He has given us. I do not in the least set up 
my reason against His, but against my fellow-creatures', 
who tell me to accept a book as from Him upon no better 
evidence than I myself possess, the chief reason being that 
it is better than any other, which I am quite ready to ad- 
mit ; but I feel that I should be sinning seriously against 
Him were I not very jealously to guard against adopting 
any system which involved what I consider degrading to 
Him, without overwhelming evidence of its authenticity. 
Such evidence must of necessity be supernatural, as every- 
thing coming through mortal agency is, prima facie, from 
the very nature of things, imperfect. I do not like to 
dwell on a subject which I know is painful to you, and I 


am afraid you will never understand what I mean, or, after 
all I have said to you, you would never have used the 
old arguments about not exercising my reason on what I 
do not understand. I certainly do not understand God's 
dealings with man, nor am I so presumptuous as to sup- 
pose I ever shall; hut if I did not exercise my reason, 
there would be nothing to prevent my accepting the Koran 
or any other system of theology my fellow-creatures might 
assure me was right, and deny me the privilege of judging 
for myself. You say you would be glad if I could give up 
my career for God's service. I would willingly go into a 
dungeon for the rest of my days if I was vouchsafed a 
supernatural revelation of a faith ; but I should consider 
myself positively wicked if upon so momentous a subject 
I was content with any assumptions of my erring and im- 
perfect fellow-creatures, when against the light of my own 

" With regard to prayer, I have lately been asking for 
things, because I could not endure, as it were, merely 
stating my case, and I felt so strongly what you say 
about answers; but it has been, and is, with a strong 
feeling of doubt and disquietude that I am dishonouring 
Him by supposing I can influence Him in anything. 
However, I have too strong a sense of His love to think 
it can be displeasing to Him ; and the instinct seems 
so deeply implanted in one to do so, though I think it 
is only the instinct of a low spiritual creature, and 
when one gets further advanced one will not need it. 
However, it is no pleasure to me to be thus distracted 
with doubts and difficulties, and therefore pray do not 
think I am doing it from a spirit of pride or opposition. 
I am really anxious to know and do what is right, 
though the circumstances of my present life are un- 
favourable; and, moreover, I do not attach importance 
to the infraction of what are really the conventionalities 
of the Christian world. I may appear to be irreligious 
because my religion does not consist in the same course 
of action, and my standard is different. I do not say 
that I act up to it, but I think if I did I should shame 
the professing Christian. My faith is not strong enough 

PKAYEK. 123 

to bring me up to my standard, but I hope it may be 
some day. 

" I quite agree* in what papa says about the spiritualist's 
God. I felt it myself. It removed him too far off. But, 
on the other hand, what papa calls God's invention of 
Christ does not remove the difficulty: it substitutes an- 
other being, whose merit is that you are to think of Him 
as God. The moment you think of Him as God, He is as 
far away as ever, besides the dire confusion which such a 
mixture immediately raises in the mind. I never from 
my earliest day could get over that difficulty, and always 
found myself instinctively yearning for the fountainhead, 
and overleaping all intermediate beings. However, I am 
glad you wrote, because it stirs me up. I get too dis- 
tracted sometimes by my mode of life, and do not think 
so much as I ought. In order to keep up the proper 
peace of mind, one ought to be constantly thinking, 
and not contented with a morning and evening ejacu- 
lation. I would sooner go to the stake than do violence 
to what I believe to be the yearnings and whisperings, 
weak and imperfect no doubt, of my divine nature." 

He returns to the subject of prayer on another 
occasion, quoting a passage from Francis Newman to 
illustrate his position. " So," he adds, " because I pray 
I do not feel that I can influence God, but that in ex- 
pressing my desires I am holding almost the only 
communion which is open to me, giving Him, as it 
were, all my confidence, as the most pleasing homage I 
can do Him, and the fullest recognition I can make of 
His love and beneficence, and the interest He has in 
my happiness and welfare." This is little more than a 
modern expression of the same sentiment which John 
Knox stated, in far stronger and more eloquent words, 
when he described prayer as " an earnest and familial- 
talking with God." Laurence, however, had not, I fear, 
notwithstanding his many qualities, that preference for 
the best and highest in literature, either sacred or pro- 
fane, which we expect to find in a mind so well 
endowed. Theodore Parker is the fount from which he 


chiefly draws in these religious speculations, and he 
finds pleasure in Longfellow which Tennyson does not 
convey. It is not necessary to be a critic because a man 
is full of native ability and force of mind. The juxta- 
position of these two names in poetry, with a preference 
for the former unhesitatingly and strongly expressed, will 
make most readers smile : but it would be vain to claim 
for him a perfection which he did not possess. Perhaps 
his early association with America, in the first indepen- 
dent opening of his mind, may have had something to do 
with it ; perhaps his imperfect education, which fed him 
upon " good " books, and shut up to him the highest 
sources of poetical imagination. Some one, I do not 
remember who, tells of the excitement and delight 
with which he discovered Shakespeare, who had been 
unknown to him coming back and back to tell his 
amused friends of some new wonder in the book which 
they had recommended to him in the dearth of other 
reading. It is well to know that he was capable of being 
thus stirred : he was not capable, it is evident, of judging 
the respective magnitudes of the lesser lights. 

The subject of religion, however, is far the more import- 
ant to him, and continually in his thoughts. His feelings 
on this subject are saddened by the consciousness that his 
correspondent will not enter into them, but rather blame 
him for his views on many matters of faith. " A transition 
state," he says, " such as I am in, is never a favourable 
one ; but I do hope that I am getting hold of something. 
I have learnt, however, to believe in nothing which I can- 
not see manifested in life. The influence of early life, 
and the constraints which one set of opinions imposed, are 
loosened. Though another set of opinions may involve 
precisely the same restraints, time is required to ripen 
their influence. Of course, a man cannot bring a faith to 
bear upon his life and conversation until he has got a 
very firm hold of it." 

The one point upon which he is assured is that this is 
his only test. He sees all round him men who are very 
nice fellows, who would be horrified not to be called 
Christians, but in whom religion of any kind is as little 


apparent as if they believed nothing. " I am a thorough 
Christian," he says, " so far as my reverence for and belief 
in every moral principle Christ has propounded is con- 
cerned ; but I am utterly opposed to the popular develop- 
ment of Christianity, indeed I think it quite inconsistent 
with His teaching. I never felt so deep an interest in any 
subject, and am thankful for the leisure I have had to 
read and think of it." The same sentiment appears again 
and again. " Those who have seen war," he says, " can 
best appreciate the value of Christ's ' Blessed are the 

" If that was to be the aim of the diplomatist, his would 
be the noblest of professions. My natural man is intensely 
warlike, which is just as low a passion as avarice or any 
other. I went last Sunday to church to hear a parson, 
with a Crimean medal on his surplice, preach between a 
lot of 68-pounders on ' Fear not man that can kill the 
body, but fear Him who can cast both body and soul into 
hell,' and I wondered what sort of morality you could 
expect from men whose occupation was the destruction of 
their fellow-creatures, to the conscientious discharge of 
which they were to be urged by their fear of an avenging 
Deity, the Creator of them all. One would think even a 
sailor would discern the impossibility of elevating his 
moral nature by the application of two such principles as 
cruelty and fear." 

It is not my part to point out the fallacy as well as the 
strong parti pris of these remarks : they are intended to 
show the working of the mind, which it is my business to 
delineate in its weakness as well as in its strength. 

" The more I consider my own nature," he adds, " the 
more I see the tremendous power a creed ought to contain 
within itself to become a living principle. A flaw here 
or there does infinite mischief. In order to prevail over 
the tendency to evil, it must invade with overwhelming 
force a man's whole nature, obliging him by its purity, 
and the strength of its appeal to his convictions, to 


recognise its truth ; but if his moral instincts discover 
the slightest flaw, the whole fabric goes by the board, and 
he has hard work to make up the leeway, which the 
absence of the old faith and the struggle for the new 
involves. I can well understand any man giving up in 
despair the hope of finding a creed containing elements 
powerful enough to govern him absolutely. It is a long 
time before he gets over a sort of repugnance at the very 
idea of the old one, and recognises again all that is good 
and beautiful in it. I do think that God satisfies every 
man's craving in this respect in time, if he keeps on fight- 
ing and groping." 

It is very seldom that we have the spectacle of a mind 
thus seething with dissatisfaction and eager desire after a 
better way, so curiously unphilosophical in his philosophy, 
and so penetrated in the midst of his revolt by sentiments 
of reverential and strongly realised faith. Here is a very 
interesting exposition of his standing ground and its dis- 
advantages : 

" In looking upon my own state and experience, I find 
to the good that I have made certain advances towards a 
faith which no doubt influences my life perhaps not more 
than my life used to be influenced before ; but the difference 
is that formerly my life depended not upon the sincerity 
of my moral convictions, or even on my fear of offending 
God, but entirely on the fear of making you miserable. 
Had that check ceased to exist, I have no doubt I should 
have gone to the bad. The old associations and habitual 
restraints might have held me in for a short time, but very 
short, and the end would have been utter recklessness or 
defiance. Now that is all changed, and although, as I 
say, my present life may not be better than my past, still 
it is founded on a different basis, and, I trust, will go on 
improving, irrespective of any mundane event. That, I 
say, I find to the good. To the bad I have to lament an 
entire looseness in my moral tone and conversation, for 
which I can perfectly account, but which I find it most 
difficult to overcome. It arises from the contempt I feel 


(but which is wrong) for professors of a creed which has 
no power over them, but all the dogmas which I am 
blamed for not subscribing to. When men who keep 
harems go to church regularly, and blame me for not 
going with them, I am apt to confound the faith with the 
individual, and swear at the whole concern. And so, 
because I do not confess to a good deal that seems to be 
hollow in the practice of a popular theology, I am put 
down as being without religion, and so lose any influence 
which, did I refrain from this, I might have, besides 
giving a totally wrong impression of my real convictions. 
But it is a mistake to confound religion with theology. 
It is the fashion to regard the former as springing from 
the latter, whereas if you have the former it makes little 
difference what you profess as the latter. 

" But do not think I confound the Christian religion 
with the practice which its professors follow, in accordance 
with a theology they have deduced from it. The Bible 
is a very different thing from the popularly received tra- 
ditionary interpretation of it which rests on human rea- 
son. I quite believe in its inspiration, but in a particular 
way. I had first thought of an illustration when I found 
an almost exactly similar one in Morell. He proves, by a 
very well -argued and elaborate process, that revelation 
and intuition are the same thing. I had long arrived at 
that, but did not know how, until he proved it. Theodore 
Parker has the same ; but my notion is this, that suppos- 
ing a man's whole moral nature was in perfect harmony, 
and his spiritual intelligence perfect, his mind would be 
like a perfectly calm lake upon which would be accord- 
ingly reflected the mind of God; but the moment the 
surface is disturbed the image becomes imperfect, the 
amount of the imperfection depending upon the amount of 
the disturbance. Now, according to my view, the minds 
of Christ and of His apostles were in that state of almost 
perfect spiritual repose. They reflected more accurately 
than was ever done before or since the mind of God : that 
is, the apostles caught their repose from the mind of 
Christ but you see in them the imperfections of a dis- 
turbed moral nature. Peter and Paul quarrel, and attach 


importance to things strangled and to circumcision that 
is, the surface was ruffled by old prejudices, undue spir- 
itual enthusiasm, strong passions, &c. and so fail to 
give that perfect image of the mind of God. We may 
perceive these imperfections, though very far from having 
minds so spiritually enlightened as theirs, just as you can 
tell the faults of a picture without being an artist. I feel 
sure that as men's minds become more enlightened, and 
they begin to receive those revelations which the apostles 
did themselves, they will no longer accord their writings 
the infallibility which they do not claim (they only claim 
inspiration, which, as I say, they certainly had, and which 
I trust others may yet have). The goodness of the 
inspiration must depend upon the medium. The purest 
inspiration may be polluted. If the channel is a sewer, 
it does not matter how clear may be the spring ; so in 
the Old Testament we find all sorts of people chosen as 
mediums; but of the value, for instance, of Solomon's 
inspiration we must judge for ourselves. It is in accord- 
ance with the divine plan always to make use of human 
means, with all their imperfections, and I see no reason to 
suppose that the Bible is the only thing that ever came 
through human instruments that does not partake of their 
imperfections, more especially when the internal evidence 
that it does so is irresistible to my mind." 

He adds, that in the midst of the rising excitement of 
an approaching crisis, which in former times would have 
occupied him wholly, he feels himself much more inter- 
ested in metaphysical questions than in the bombardment 
of Canton, or anything that can happen. His guides in 
these researches seem to have been Theodore Parker, to 
whom he constantly refers, and Mr Morell, whose ' History 
of Philosophy ' had recently made an impression upon the 
public attention which has not proved permanent. It is 
unfortunate that a mind so active, yet which was never 
without a certain confusion in these matters which, curi- 
ously enough, he proclaims at this period as his favourite 
study should not have been under more thorough and 
trustworthy guidance. It seems a paradox, yet it is one 
of which there are many examples, that w T heii a mind 


essentially practical, with a special literary gift of clear 
narrative, involves itself in metaphysical subjects, this 
strange confusion is often the result. General Gordon 
is another example of a heroically keen intelligence in 
practical effort and dealings with men, which yet became 
hopelessly clouded and bewildered in theological matters, 
wandering in a fog of chaotic thought, and substituting 
subject for object, and vice versd, with a boldness which 
is also heroic, though sadly perplexing to the reader. 
Laurence Oliphant's religious theories at this moment, 
when he pursued them hotly in his cabin, amid all the 
curious surroundings of an expedition which was at once 
diplomatic and military, will show how ready his mind 
was for the influences which afterwards took possession of 
it, how superficial in theory, how heroic in determination 
to follow out his conclusions to whatever end they might 

Meantime, as he says, the plot was thickening around, 
and had it not been for this preoccupation with meta- 
physics and the religious question, "I ought now to be 
in an intense state of excitement. 

" Wade has gone up the river with a flag of truce and 
Lord Elgin's ultimatum to Yeh. I volunteered to go; 
but he was quite right not to send me, not being a Chinese 
scholar, though I begged hard. The Admiral has drawn a 
cordon close round Canton, and is to occupy the island of 
Homan, immediately opposite the town, to-morrow. The 
French fleet has gone up the river to take part in the 
blockade. The 59th and artillery go up with the General ; 
in a day or two we shall have upwards of 6000 men as a 
land force, half red jackets and half blue, including the 
French. If Yeh does not give in, they will take Canton on 
Tuesday week, the 22d, probably. I do not anticipate any 
great difficulty even if he holds out ; but the bazaar report 
here is that he is in a horrid fright, and going to give in 
and come to terms. I hope he may, for in case of bom- 
bardment of a town containing a million of people, the 
slaughter of innocent women and children and people 
generally will be dreadful. However, the bishop has 



appointed a day of humiliation for the Indian business; 
so we are to humble ourselves to-day, and make up for it 
next week by sending a few thousands of our fellow- 
creatures into the next world." 

On a similar subject he enlarges at more length in a 
following letter : 

" I see you have been having a great day of humiliation. 
I am very strongly opposed to this, as very derogatory to 
God and reflecting upon His love. He has created a uni- 
verse with certain laws ; all violation of these laws implies 
misery a misery which is ordained to teach men to im- 
prove themselves. The child trying to walk tumbles and 
hurts its nose. It was no judgment on the child that it 
fell: it was a wise law that provided a misery, and its 
humiliation consisted in keeping its legs straight for the 
future. It is a mockery to say you are sorry, and go and 
do the same again ; and a sin to think that God acts by 
fits and starts as we do, with a judgment here and there, 
as if the whole thing was not obedient to fixed and certain 
laws. The general notion is that you are appeasing an 
angry Deity, which is the worst of all." 

It is curious that this very banal though plausible view 
of national prayer, the frequent utterance of the superficial 
thinker, had been already met and answered by himself 
in the individual point of view a few letters before, as 
above quoted. After so many details of these opinions as 
to the demerits of Christians and merit of Christianity, 
and his own uncomfortable substitution of the one for the 
other, which is very much what they come to, the reader 
will be refreshed by his thoughts upon another subject 
one, too, of the greatest importance to him in after-life, 
and of which it is apparent here he already held the germ. 
His mother's letter had informed him of the death of their 
friend Dr Clark, which he says gave him at first a painful 
shock : 

" We have been so accustomed to surround death with 

DEATH. 131 

horrors, and to be selfish in our sorrow, that news of the 
departure from the world of any one we love gives us 
quite a different feeling from what it ought. No doubt 
this partly arises from an uncertainty whether we shall 
ever meet again, and a want of faith in the love of God, 
who, I feel certain, will never separate people for long 
who love one another. In the meantime, I have no doubt 
Tom is often present with us, it is possible exercising 
some influence for good over our lives ; at all events, the 
loss is only on our side, and that for a short time : so that 
I cannot talk of poor Tom, or call the news sad I only 
feel the very earthly feeling of regret that when I get 
back I shall not see his dear kind old face, or hear his 
favourite greeting, into which he used to throw so much 
love and interest, of ' Well, boy ! ' The very feeling which 
will perhaps make the tears come into your eyes as you 
read this, as they have into mine as I write, only shows 
what a softening influence love is, and what a beautifying 
effect it would have on our lives if we could feel more 
universally for our fellow-creatures what we feel for Tom." 

In a similar way he discusses the feeling of thankful- 
ness for his escape from drowning, of which he tells her : 

" As far as you are concerned, I often think if I have 
a narrow shave that it is perfectly legitimate the feeling 
should be one of thankfulness. I should feel the same 
about you, but not about myself. The reason I feel it 
about you, and you about me, is because we are both 
selfish in respect to one another ; but thankfulness on the 
part of the individual himself at being saved from death 
seems to me the most wretched mundane sentiment pos- 
sible, to say nothing of its being dishonouring to God. 
If we are always thankful for being kept alive, it is very 
evident that we must regard His dispensation of death as 
a hardship to be disgusted with whenever it comes. As 
if He were not to be trusted to keep us in this world or 
send us to the next in His own good time ! I am not in 
the least a fatalist : I should struggle in the' water to the 
last gasp ; but when it did come, as I feel now, I should 


be perfectly satisfied. I have the most unbounded con- 
fidence in the universal economy of things, and I don't 
like implying that God could be guilty of an act of caprice 
or injustice by being thankful for His sparing me, when, 
if He did not, I should not be entitled to complain." 

Nothing can be more interesting than these indications 
of the way in which the thoughts of the young man, amid 
surroundings so little congenial to any prolonged process 
of thinking, were occupied. It would be vain to pretend 
that they were either original or profound ; indeed they 
are throughout pervaded by the curious confusion between 
Christianity as a religious system and the shortcomings of 
its professors, as if it were incumbent upon a thinking 
man to abjure the faith in order to protest against the 
faults of those who failed to obey it, which we have 
already pointed out. But they are interesting as showing 
how early and how independently the germs which were 
so to develop in after-life had gained possession of his 
mind. His views upon that inspiration, which was the 
same as intuition, and the consequent subjection of every 
actual truth to the feeling and instinct of the believer ; 
his determination that every influence should be judged 
according to its practical power over himself even his 
views in respect to the parting of death, and the attitude 
we ought to hold towards it, are all germs of the faith 
which afterwards led him to so many singular steps. 
They are interesting in this respect as well as for them- 
selves, unusual matter to occupy the mind of a young 
man in his circumstances. He was approaching his 
twenty -ninth birthday, and his life hitherto had been one 
of almost wild adventure, continual movement, and rest- 
less occupation. 

On the other hand, however, there was plenty of ad- 
venture to record. He took a share in everything, what- 
ever was going on. When a flag of truce was sent up the 
Canton river with Lord Elgin's ultimatum, he volunteered, 
as has been said, for the duty ; and though he agreed that 
it was better left in the hands of Wade, who was a Chinese 
scholar, than in his own, yet he " begged hard," as he says, 


to have the errand. When Captain Sherard Osborn went 
off in the Furious to Manilla, Laurence got permission to 
accompany him, to vary the monotony of the long waiting 
at Hong-Kong; but here a difficulty arose. "Sherard 
Osborn," he writes, " is the fellow whom I pitched into so 
furiously at the Geographical about the Sea of Azoff, so I 
may not get him to take me ; " but Captain Osborn was 
magnanimous, and did not recall this old score. The most 
amusing thing in the journey is the description of High 
Mass in the cathedral at Manilla, which "was a most 
grotesque performance." 

"The troops marched into church, filling nearly the 
whole of it, and six men with swords drawn took up a 
position on the altar platform to present arms to the 
priest. The band was immediately below this, and opened 
proceedings with a very pretty deux-temps waltz. They 
principally played polkas and waltzes, sometimes kneel- 
ing, sometimes standing, the men crossing themselves in 
quick time, making a sort of polka step on their faces 
with wonderful rapidity. I tried crossing myself in quick 
time, but made a mess of it. The whole thing lasted about 
half an hour, and consisted entirely of music. The officiat- 
ing priest was a black man, who never said anything, and 
only occasionally elevated the Host, and turned round to 
bless the congregation in pantomime." 

After long inaction and various attempts at negotiation, 
the united forces found themselves compelled to proceed 
to the bombardment of Canton, which was taken with the 
greatest of ease and the utmost rapidity, scarcely any re- 
sistance being made. Laurence and some of the other 
non-combatants watched the proceedings from an eminence 
close by, on a hill used as a cemetery, where they found 
"shelter from the flying balls in a deep little grave." 
" Unfortunately," he says, " the very imperfection of their 
modes of defence is the greatest danger in Chinese war- 
fare. If you are alone in the midst of a silent turnip-field, 
you are as likely to be hit as if you were immediately 
under the walls with an attacking party, for they have no 


idea of taking aim, and their rockets go shying about in 
all conceivable directions." He had seen " a brave young 
fellow killed by one of these wild projectiles within 
five or six yards of him," but still it was difficult to 
believe there was any danger, they were so few and far 

" This sort of thing went on until half-past eight, when 
the Braves made an attack on our extreme right, of which 
we had a capital view ; but we were soon diverted from 
looking at this by the cheers in front, and we saw the 
scaling-ladders up, and our fellows clustering like bees 
into a hive. We immediately bolted down to join them, 
and in five minutes stood upon the city wall, deserted by 
every vestige of a Chinaman, except those that were lying 
dead along the parapet. We had a magnificent view of 
the vast city, with its million of inhabitants, at our feet, 
not showing a sign of life. Not a living creature was to 
be seen throughout its whole extent. The streets, to be 
sure, are so narrow that you can't see far into them ; but 
when you did, you only saw dead or occasionally wounded 
people. I went down with the General to the other end 
of the wall, a mile and a half distant, where they were 
potting at our fellows from the tops of houses, and while 
I was there poor Bower of the 59th was wounded I fear 
mortally. However, it was their last effort. We made 
this our advanced post in this direction. I wanted to get 
back with all my news to Lord Elgin. I took advantage 
of a party going to open up a new communication, got 
down to the river, and was on board the Furious in time, 
as you know, to catch the post by about five minutes." 

He defends himself some time later, when he has had 
time to receive letters from home blaming him for thus 
unnecessarily exposing himself at Canton, in an amusing 
way. He was wrong, he allows. " But it involves a 
greater act of self-denial than any I know to refrain from 
going to see anything approaching to a fight. And though 
in principle I utterly disapprove of war, when it comes to 
' Away there, second cutters ! ' human nature can't resist 


jumping in, whatever good resolutions one may have 
formed to the contrary." 

It is unnecessary to follow the course of the expedition, 
which was still exposed to extraordinary delays, even after 
this apparently decisive step. Laurence cannot refrain 
from a temptation still greater than that of warfare a 
little abuse of the spirit of revenge, which he found so 
strongly developed among so-called religious persons. He 
tells his mother that the missionaries at Shanghai, where 
the expedition went after reducing Canton to the most 
prostrate subjection, were revolted by the mildness of Lord 
Elgin's measures. " Like Lord Shaftesbury, they are truly 
English, and grumble at our not having murdered Yeh 
and given Canton over to pillage and slaughter. As a 
general rule, one thinks that justice ought to be tempered 
with mercy ; but they would have vengeance tempered 
with justice!" It is well to add, however, that the 
"parson with a Crimean medal pinned on his surplice," 
who had made him angry by preaching on hell, turned out 
" a very nice fellow " when they watched Canton together 
from among the tombs. But Laurence was little favour- 
able to missionaries in general, and felt with many others 
that the good incomes, good houses, and worldly comfort 
of men who were supposed to be sacrificing everything for 
Christ's work, were jarring circumstances, to say the least. 
His comparison between the Jesuit schools at Shanghai 
and those of the Protestant missionaries was perhaps 
touched with the same prejudice, yet no doubt had truth 
in it. Of the first, he says : 

"I was struck with the intelligent expression of the 
youths' countenances, and the apparent affection they had 
for their teachers. Instead of cramming nothing but texts 
down their throats, they teach them the Chinese classics, 
Confucius, &c., so as to enable them to compete in the 
examinations. The result is, that even if they do not 
become Christians, they have always gratitude enough to 
protect those to whom they owed their education, and per- 
haps consequent rise in life. I also went over a school 
with the Bishop. The contrast was most striking. Small 


boys gabbled the Creed over in what was supposed to be 
English; but in one instance Lord Elgin was profoundly- 
persuaded it was Chinese. They understood probably 
about as clearly as they pronounced. Then, instead of 
the missionaries living among them and identifying them- 
selves with the boys, they have gorgeous houses, wives, 
and families. A missionary here with a wife and four 
children gets a house as big as Spring Grove rent free, 
and 500 a-year : and that is called giving up all for the 
sake of the heathen ! " 

The difficulties under which the expedition had to be 
carried out throw a curious light upon the hindrances, 
unsuspected by the general public, to which even the 
most important public work is exposed. Thus between 
two and three months were lost at Hong-Kong, while the 
forces sent out from England to replace those carried off 
to India were on the way. And again, at the mouth of 
the Peiho the whole mission was arrested for a month by 
the blunder or obstinacy of the admirals, who would not 
furnish gunboats which could cross the bar and ascend the 
river. I may quote one amusing incident of the subjec- 
tion of the town of Tientsin, in which the private narrative 
of the letters is even more picturesque than that after- 
wards published. The town had capitulated, but was un- 
friendly and apt to do or say something disagreeable when 
occasion served. Thus two of the captains of the fleet 
were insulted on a visit they paid, without escort or alarm, 
to some of the shops and streets. A detachment of a hun- 
dred marines was sent to punish the offenders, but on 
reaching the town found the gates closed against them. 
Laurence, generally to be found by some -lucky accident 
wherever anything was going on, had accompanied them 
on horseback. 

" Osborn and I, however, discovered a scalable place 
where a house was built against the wall ; so we took 
three blue-jackets, and with Drew got on the roof and 
thus scrambled on to the wall, the bricks being decayed 
S,Q as to give us something to hold to. Then witl} bayo- 


nets and revolvers drawn we rushed down with a frantic 
yell upon the unsuspecting crowd collected at the gate, 
thinking they had succeeded in barring us out. They 
took to their heels, struck to a panic by the six barbarians, 
and we smashed the bar of the gate and let the warriors 
in, with whom we paraded the town, making six prisoners 
at the place where the outrage was committed." 

The commissioners from the Emperor, obtained after 
much difficulty to settle the treaty, which for the first 
time admitted foreign traders, as a right, to the Celestial 
Empire, met Lord Elgin at this town, Laurence in the 
meanwhile having been much occupied in " collecting from 
old treaties and other sources all the points" that could 
be employed in the new. The other special missions upon 
which Laurence was himself engaged such as that to 
Soochow, Nankin, and some others are fully recorded in 
his book. The private narrative adds little, except on the 
former occasion an account of his troubles with a vapour- 
ing French consul, who was the adviser of his colleague 
the French secretary, but exceedingly unpopular as well 
as injudicious. Having achieved the treaty, the expedi- 
tion went to Japan, returning to Shanghai and Canton for 
the final ratification. In the hurried and brief visit to 
Japan there was nothing but pleasurable excitement before 
them,- the first discovery, so to speak, of a wonderful new 
nation, the wonder and enigma of modern times. In the 
second volume of Laurence's 'Narrative' there will be 
found full details of this visit; but in his letters it has 
very little space, partly, I think, because, like all the rest 
of the mission, he had become very tired of his banish- 
ment, and in the hope of a speedy return home put off his 
descriptions of the unknown country till he should be able 
to give them by word of mouth. " We were all enchanted 
with Japan/' he says, writing from Shanghai on their 

" Sept. 1, 1858. 

" At Sinoden we heard from the American consul that 
in consequence of the moral effect of our having forced 
the Chinamen into a treaty, he had just been able to 


conclude one at Yeddo ; so we proceeded there, and the 
Japanese saw for the first time in their lives four foreign 
ships anchor off the capital. They were most civil, and 
gave us a capital lodging on shore in a temple. Six com- 
missioners were appointed to treat, and I never ceased re- 
gretting that you had prevented me from learning Dutch 
at the Cape in consideration of my morals, though I dare- 
say I should have forgotten it as it was the only medium 
of communication here, and we had to make use of the 
American interpreter. I had a considerable finger in the 
pie nevertheless, Lord Elgin very kindly letting me take 
as prominent a place as circumstances would permit. The 
commissioners were capital fellows, and so different from 
the Chinese, so full of animation and life, and very go- 
ahead. They are the most good-tempered people I ever 
met, and Japan is the only country I was ever in where 
there is no poverty and beggars are unknown. Much as 
I should hate going to China in any capacity, I would 
willingly go to Japan, and I am sure, were I to get the 
appointment of Consul-General there, you and papa would 
like it. Of course all this has furnished me with plenty 
of material for my book." 

His mind, it must be added, was at this moment, as the 
work of the mission was nearly over, again much occupied 
by thoughts of a permanent appointment. One of those 
which were spoken of was the appointment of Governor 
of the Straits Settlements, to which he was inclined ; but 
it is evident that he would gladly have accepted any fitting 
post in his anxiety to attain a settled position in life. To 
be Secretary of Legation at a foreign capital would have 
been in some respects still more congenial. A wife, which 
he had for years decided half in jest and half in earnest to 
be the first necessity of all, is also spoken of. On the 
other hand, "I sometimes think I will throw up all my 
present ambitions, try and find some one with three or four 
hundred a-year, and settle down in a small way at a Euro- 
pean capital to work out my own problems. After all," 
he adds, " there is no such happiness as living in one's own 
world of thought. At present my thoughts run on aniseed, 


almonds, beans, l^che de mer, and so on through all the 
tariff. What ennobling and elevating subjects for con- 
templation ! " At the moment when he thus expressed 
himself, he was discussing point by point with the Chinese 
Commissioners the details of duties and imports, and very 
weary of his work. 

The snatches of gaiety which broke the routine of tedious 
life furnish some amusing incidents to the narrative, but 
very often are weighted with a moral, and many assaults 
upon the manners of the mercantile communities. At one 
place the ball came to its conclusion in an effective sur- 
prise. " Lord Elgin and I finished with a reel for the edi- 
fication of the public, took a tender farewell of society, 
and embarked during the small hours of the morning, so 
that when the world awoke next day we were no more to 
be seen." At another place the company was ddvote, and 
a different kind of entertainment was necessary. 

" The King of Denmark's fiddler has been here, and we 
had music and singing for Mrs M. and other non-dancing 
ladies ; but when they left we danced till a late hour. 
Lord Elgin stumped Mrs M. by asking if that were not 
the time for dancing mentioned by Solomon, and what 
hour of the day she thought he would approve? She 
denied that he said there was a time for dancing, but has 
since found chapter and verse, and has given in, but evi- 
dently thinks Solomon was wrong. The Bishop and his 
wife are becoming dabs at billiards ; but the other night 
when the missionaries were dining he would not allow the 
billiard-room to be lighted, though he is generally the 
last to leave it. Woe unto you Evangelists and Pusey- 
ites, hypocrites ! To abstain from dancing, and love to 
be seen in fine bonnets at church, and at the head of sub- 
scription lists ostentatiously [here follows a long tirade]. 
. . . There is a sudden explosion for you, which has 
taken me as much by surprise as you. Poor Bishop ! I 
don't mean to abuse him. I think by the way he button- 
holes me, and talks confidential platitudes to me in corners, 
that he rather likes me. He constantly excuses the mis- 
sionaries for going into the country against treaty, &c., 


though I carefully refrain from reflecting on them ; so I 
suppose it is his own conscience. I believe he is a good 
man. He confirms to-day a lot of middies who have 
been prepared for the ceremony by our convivial parson, 
and who, though nice young fellows, are some of them 
such scamps that their sponsors must be immensely re- 
lieved by the load that will be lifted from their shoulders." 

Laurence is never happier than when he sends a flying 
shaft thus at the " worldly holy," against whom afterwards, 
in ' Piccadilly,' he poured forth his keenest satire. He 
tells his mother afterwards that he had nearly embroiled 
himself with the lady mentioned above, for laughing at a 
society for Biblical discussion among the ladies, one mem- 
ber of which had distinguished Bishop Heber as a descen- 
dant of Heber the Kenite. "I said that as a lawyer I was 
superior to all clergy as an interpreter of texts, and sug- 
gested that I should be elected permanent referee to the 
ladies with other foolish nonsense," he writes, repentant, 
having made his peace. But the society of these seaports, 
" worse than a colony," as he says, grew more and more 
intolerable to him as the days lingered on. " The men 
think of nothing but tea, silk, and opium ; the women are 
too apathetic to care even for gaiety and crinoline. We 
are going to make a spasmodic attempt to amuse them 
with a ball ; but Fitzroy is in despair, for only eight 
ladies have accepted and 120 men ! " 

Meanwhile his metaphysical thinkings and readings go 
on, and he has a mingled disappointment and delight in 
finding the metaphysical and religious work he had in- 
tended to produce forestalled by Mr William Smith's 
'Thorndale,' in which he has been " revelling," and which 
"represents my own ideas and condition of mind better 
than anything I could myself give." " Mind you read 
every word of it to papa," he repeats, " and think over it 
the while, and of me, when you read the chapter called 
' Childhood,' as I did of you." 

He is afterwards astonished and delighted, " after what 
I wrote to you about ' Thorndale,' that just as I should be 
making you a present of a copy of it, I should receive one 


with your dear handwriting on the title-page ! " Another 
book which he had read with pleasure was a very different 
one, Miss Marsh's ' Hearts and Hands,' an account of her 
mission among the navvies. He wonders, not unnaturally, 
whether his complicated religious system would have any 
influence upon such people ; but comforts himself by the 
thought that a complicated system need not be less true 
than a simpler one, and that those who act by reason are 
less likely to be backsliders than those who are moved by 
enthusiasm. Their progress may be slow, but it is sure. 

" In my own case it is awfully slow ; but then consider 
the difficulty of having to build away for one's self and 
fight against prejudice existing in every form around, and 
compare my condition with that of the worldly man who 
becomes a ' converted Christian.' He flings himself at 
once into the religious world, where he is supported and 
taught and cared for, his difficulties explained and his 
faith strengthened, and sails smoothly and easily down the 
stream. To put it in the form of an equation, he is to me 
as is a Eoman Catholic to him. He thinks the Eoman 
Catholic has his religion done for him, I think the Protes- 
tant has his religion done for him. So different is religion 
in these days from what it was in the days of Christ, that 
the worldly man does not persecute the saint, but the 
saint persecutes the worldly man. It requires infinitely 
more strength of mind and moral courage to come out 
from the religious world and to be separate, than to come 
out from the worldly one." 

This perpetual assault against the religious world may 
be explained by the fact that the exterior conventionali- 
ties of that world had been more or less always present, 
overshadowing his life, until the young man emancipated 
himself from them. It would have been perhaps more 
wonderful had he lived to perceive nowadays that in 
many circles the greatest courage and strength of mind is 
required from those who profess any belief at all. He 
defends himself once more from the accusation of "setting 
up his reason," which his mother had brought against him. 


" You must remember that the fact that we believe 
many things we don't understand does not prove that 
when we don't understand a thing we should believe it. 
We have only our reason to decide for us the cases in 
which it voluntarily allows itself to be suspended. It 
preaches faith equally in your case as in mine, only I 
require stronger grounds to influence me than you do. 
But I think that it is a mistake to hold on to it too long. 
1 have long since taken refuge in my intuitions." 

Eeason, tempered by intuition, was thus the rule to 
which he had attained, alone and without spiritual guid- 
ance of any kind. The reader will perceive that thus the 
doors of his heart were wide open, so that any interpreter 
who commended himself, if that were possible, to both, 
might enter in. 

His return home after this, the longest absence from 
his parents which he had ever undergone, was a very 
mournful one. For the dear "Papa," whom he rarely 
called by any but that tender childish title, died suddenly 
a short time before the expedition came back. It was, I 
think, at one of the ports of Ceylon a place so associated 
with him that Laurence received the news. Sir An- 
thony's death was entirely unexpected, and occurred, I 
believe, at a dinner-party to which he had gone in his 
usual health. I have been told that, being at sea at the 
time, Laurence came on deck one morning and informed 
his comrades that he had seen his father in the night, and 
that he was dead that they endeavoured to laugh him 
out of the impression, but in vain. The date was taken 
down, and on their arrival in England it .was found that 
Sir Anthony Oliphant had indeed died on that night 
which would be a remarkable addition, if sufficiently con- 
firmed, to many stories of a similar kind which are well 
known. He always appears in his son's letters and in 
his wife's in the most engaging light a cheerful and 
bright spirit interested in everything about him, as curious 
of novelty and excitement as his own son was, delighting 
to find himself in the heart of everything that was going 
on. The jokes about " the darling," in which he indulged 


in the earlier Colombo days, half hiding under a humorous 
pretence at jealousy the delight and pride in the beloved 
boy, which he felt as warmly as the mother did, and his 
readiness to follow Lowry wherever his fortunes led 
him, are as lovable and delightful as is the confidence of 
Laurence in papa's comprehension and sympathy and the 
charm of his companionship. The mother and son discuss 
him indeed sometimes as mothers and children will do, 
as if he were a big schoolboy, whose pranks are charming, 
but whose health and comfort has to be looked after by 
more careful heads than his own ; but in his judgment on 
serious matters his son had always the fullest reliance, 
and the highest testimony his wife could give to the 
excellence of the new tenets she adopted in later days 
was that " our beloved Sir Anthony " would have found 
comfort in them. 

He would not seem, however, to have exercised much 
guidance, but rather to have allowed himself genially to 
follow where his boy's erratic steps led now to the Crimea, 
now to the Stirling burghs, where papa's electioneering 
was most lively and active. The only " No " which seems 
ever recorded of him is when Laurence, young and san- 
guine, made a demand for money to invest in America 
to which Sir Anthony replied with the dry but admir- 
able advice that his son should save anything he could 
from his official salary and invest that. This advice 
was so far taken that Laurence became the possessor of 
" a town lot " in the city of Superior, of which he after- 
wards made the admirable use of establishing upon it 
a friend who was under the shadow 'of severe misfor- 
tune, and for whom a refuge was thus obtained. It 
brought in, however, save in this way, no profit to its 

Sir Anthony's death made the union between mother 
and son more close and all-absorbing than ever; but it 
did not bind the active and restless young man to Eng- 
land, a result for which his spirit of adventure is not 
alone to be blamed. For he neglected no effort to estab- 
lish himself in the diplomatic service nearer home, and 
it is evident that it was the prick of injured feeling, the 


sickness at heart of continual disappointment, the spurns 
which patient merit has to accept, if not of the unworthy, 
at least of the official world, which drove him again and 
again from England. It was indeed impatient merit 
in Oliphant's case. He would not wait kicking his heels 
outside the doors of the Colonial or Foreign Office. It 
was a necessity with him to be doing, if not one thing 
then another. Both his active temperament and the state 
of his mind in respect to religious and other matters 
fomented this impatience. He explains it to his mother 
by the following excellent reasons, while also apologising 
to her for not writing of his " interior," which was what 
she always most desired: 

" So long as I have anything to interest me, I keep my- 
self so fully occupied and usefully employed that time 
passes pleasantly and profitably, and I do not compromise 
myself ; but when I have nothing to do except to be con- 
sistent in hours of temptation which are constantly recur- 
ring, and have no employment to absorb me, I go with the 
stream, having an utter want of self-denial. I find the 
only substitute is occupation, and that I cannot have on 
circuit, as it must be engrossing, which law is not. The 
consequence is, that I am in low spirits unless I am 
actively engaged." 

It is characteristic of his breeding and the perpetual 
self-examinations to which he had been made to subject 
himself, modified into a curiously unusual vein by the 
originality of his own mind, that he should go on from 
this into a lament over the incongruity of his mental and 
moral position : 

" I find it impossible to divest my conversation and con- 
duct of that frivolity which marks the worldly mind, and 
which gives the lie to any sudden outburst of morality I 
may think it necessary to assume. Nobody could conceive 
how deeply I feel the reality and truth of religion from 
my conduct, considering the force of my convictions and 
the occasional earnestness of my prayers. In days when 


I was almost insensible to religion of any sort, or had any 
principle except my love for you, I was infinitely less 
capable of evil than I am now ; but now that I begin to 
delight in the love of God after the inward man, the law 
of my members seems moved into activity. As this said 
law always gets the best of it, you will perceive that I 
must be harassed in proportion as the struggle is great. 
However, I could go on theorising for hours ; and now that 
I come to read it over, I daresay it is all humbug from 
beginning to end, and that is another reason why I don't 
like writing this sort of stuff. How am I ever to be satis- 
fied, after analysing my feelings, that I am right ? It seems 
to me one of the most fruitless occupations in the world. 
It does not appear to me that the human mind is endowed 
with faculties adequate to the task. It instinctively knows 
its own weakness, but it is not competent to say where 
that weakness lies or how it may be cured, or else it would 
be competent to cure it, which it certainly is not. If a 
divine power is necessary to overcome the depravity of 
one's human nature, a divine revelation is necessary to 
enable one to discern wherein that depravity precisely 
consists. Therefore, as I said before, I may be all wrong, 
with which consideration you must comfort yourself ; also 
with feeling that I have relieved my mind by writing all 
this, whether it is nonsense or not." 

One cannot but feel a half-amused sympathy for the 
mother, thus tantalised by revelations in which there was 
so much which must have satisfied her craving for infor- 
mation respecting her son's innermost thoughts, and so 
much that must have puzzled and confounded her. How 
far did the boy mean what he said ? and how far was it 
humbug, as he says ? All the pages of theorising which 
he addressed to her his bold criticisms of the things she 
reverenced most, and breakings-off into new paths never, 
however, discouraged her ; until the time came when they 
both beheld the new light, as it seemed to them, together, 
and all qualms on the one side and uncertainties on the 
other were swept away. 

After his two years' service in China, it was natural to 



suppose that his hopes of definite and permanent employ- 
ment would have been realised; but either the Foreign 
Office did not think so, or its slowness of operation and 
prejudice in favour of those who had entered its service 
in the usual way made its authorities impervious to the 
claims of the brilliant young interloper, who had, though 
so successful and valuable a public servant, leaped into 
the service rather by private favour of a friendly pleni- 
potentiary than in the legitimate way. At all events, he 
had got tired of waiting by the end of the year, and in the 
early beginning of 1860 we find him plunged into a new 
excitement. Probably he had remained more or less a 
sympathiser with Italy since the time when he took a 
delighted share in all the mischief going on, a dozen years 
before, when he was a boy travelling with his parents ; 
but there is no indication to show us what it was which 
made him suppose that he could do something to stay 
the course of events, when just at the crisis of the fate 
of Nice and Savoy he rushed out of London and threw 
himself into the excitement of Italian politics in Turin 
where the cession was being reluctantly carried through 
and Nice, where he actually hoped to have reversed the 
order of things, and roused the languid population to re- 
sistance. It is curious to find him discussing sentimental 
methods and quoting the ' Biglow Papers ' : "I don't 
believe in principle, but oh I du in interest ! " in respect 
to national action, while setting out on the most romantic 
piece of knight-errantry in his own person. His journey 
to Nice and Turin had, of course, two aspects; and he 
scarcely discloses even in his delightful after-narrative, 
published when all necessity for secrecy was over, the 
daring hope he had of becoming himself an important 
agent in the matter, and perhaps saving the provinces 
which Italy, not yet consolidated into a great nation, was 
compelled to sacrifice to her great and noble aim. To 
ordinary eyes it was pure love of adventure, tempered by 
the pursuit of " copy " and material for articles, chiefly in 
' Blackwood,' which carried him forth ; and he is profuse 
in his explanations to his mother that the fifty pounds he 
would make by two articles was quite justification enough 

IN TURIN. 147 

for the brief crusade, lasting only a month, upon which 
he set out in high hopes. 

Leaving Paris, Laurence found himself, to his great 
annoyance, yet amusement, in the same carriage "with 
some frowsy parties enveloped in tobacco - smoke," who 
turned out to be the very deputies from Nice, returning 
from their interview with the Emperor, whom he was 
bent on overcoming ; but with whom he became so friendly, 
picking their brains of any political secrets to be found 
there, that he was taken for one of them by an official 
who came to the railway to pay his respects to the dep- 
utation. " He made me a low bow, which I returned 
with all the dignity becoming a man who has just sold 
his country." In Savoy he found enough of patriotic 
feeling and smouldering undirected enthusiasm to fill him 
with high hopes ; and his first resolution, after egging up 
these local patriots to resistance, was to write letters to 
every member of the Parliament in Turin, urging them to 
delay the ratification of the treaty, a tremendous step 
to be taken by a young man on his own responsibility. 
His earnestness and conviction that something might 
actually be done in this way was not unmingled with 
levity. "It is great fun," he writes, "to have another 
object than churches and picture-galleries ; " but he was 
not the less seriously disappointed and humiliated when 
he found that things had gone too far, and that all his 
eloquence,- excitement, and inspiration could not produce 
the effects he had desired. 

His acquaintance with diplomatic society carried him 
at once to the heart of affairs in Turin, and made him 
acquainted with all the now historical details of that great 
era in Italian history. He met and dined with Cavour, 
whom he describes as " a thick-set solid man, with a large 
square head and spectacles, an able, mathematical, prac- 
tical sort of head, without chivalry, principle, or genius," 
a harsh judgment, which he afterwards saw cause to 
alter. But his chief interest was Garibaldi, by whose aid 
alone any operation like that of which he dreamed was 
practicable. The impatience of the young man, used to 
constitutional methods, and conscious of the efficacy of 


popular agitation, with the still bewildered patriots, who 
were quite unable to employ such new tools, is charac- 

" Why I should take such intense interest in affairs that 
don't concern me I don't know, except that I cannot stand 
by and see a good cause ruined, and such blackguards as 
the Emperor carrying all before him, without wagging a 
finger. And these people, with all their patriotism, are so 
childish and unpractical, Garibaldi worst of all. I have 
got him regularly in tow, but cannot din the only practi- 
cable plan for the salvation of his country into his head. 
He is the most amiable, innocent, honest nature possible, 
and a first-rate guerilla chief, but in council a child. The 
worst of him is that he puts his trust in anybody, and 
unless you stick to him you lose your influence ; but he 
has a name with the people that may be turned to any 

The zeal of the young self-sent emissary seems to have 
been able to inspirit the drooping party of disconsolate 
Nizzards so far as to procure the proposal of a resolu- 
tion against the annexation, in Parliament, by Garibaldi, 
Laurence himself drawing it out. But " it is of no use, I 
feel certain," he says; "they can neither work popular 
movements nor parliamentary tactics." That the malcon- 
tents should never have thought of calling a public meet- 
ing at Nice, where the people might have expressed their 
feelings, fills him with indignant astonishment. Failing 
these constitutional methods, remained the romantic one 
of seizing and breaking the ballot-boxes when the votes 
were collected, so as to make another ballot necessary, and 
thus gain a little time, which would seem to have been 
fully planned by the energetic young revolutionary. But 
this promising plan was abandoned by the distraction of 
Garibaldi's thoughts toward Sicily, as may be seen in the 
'Episodes.' The young man promises to his mother to 
" keep out of the row " ; but we know what such under- 
takings come to in the case of an individual who had con- 
fessed that it was beyond human nature to hear that a 


fight was going on, and not rush out to see it. And what 
the Foreign Office would have thought of a possible 
Secretary of Legation breaking the ballot-boxes at the 
head of a party of Garibaldian red-shirts it would not be 
difficult to predict. Thus, perhaps, according to his pre- 
vailing conviction, it was all for the best that he should 
have been compelled to add, in deep disappointment, 
"There is not the slightest chance of a row the people 
are like sheep." 

" The business here has gone off with the usual flatness. 
Still I am glad to have seen it, and to have known the 
villanies that have been perpetrated under the pretext of 
universal suffrage. The whole thing was a sham of the 
most transparent character. A popular leader like Gari- 
baldi ought to have turned the tables. A little more of 
Walker in his composition would have settled the matter." 
Always philosophical, however, and remembering now that 
the affairs of Italy did not really concern him in the least, 
Laurence consoled himself by thoughts of the pounds which 
would be brought in by two articles in ' Blackwood,' which 
were more than his expedition had cost him altogether. 

He seems to have travelled much this year, since we 
hear of him two or three months later in Montenegro, 
where various amusing incidents happened to him, related 
in the ' Episodes ' ; and after that in Naples, where he was 
once more received by Garibaldi, by that time victor of 
Sicily, and about to round out the new-formed Italian 
kingdom by the magnificent present of the ancient Eegno, 
the only royal state in the peninsula. Laurence relates 
that he was accommodated on this occasion in the very 
palace and bedchamber of King Bomba himself, " in a bed 
so gorgeous with its gold and lace and satin, that I doubted 
whether the king himself did not keep it for show. How- 
ever, it turned out a very good one to sleep in," adds the 
light-hearted traveller, whose next night's rest might be in 
a brigand's hut or in the close little cabin of a felucca, for 
anything he knew or cared. 

It was in one more out of the way still, in the paper 
chamber of a Japanese temple, that for almost the first 
time in all his adventurous career we find him in absolute 


peril of his life. Notwithstanding what seems at the first 
glance the rapid advance and invariable success of his life, 
Laurence had not been as yet, as I have already had occa- 
sion to remark, distinguished by Government patronage. 
When the appointment as First Secretary of Legation at 
Japan was offered to him, it was thus a most important 
step in his career : though possibly, as it was to replace a 
gentleman murdered barbarously in China, and involved 
danger to life as well as a very distant exile out of the 
world, it was not eagerly sought after by the usual candi- 
dates. To Laurence, however, whose experiences of Japan 
in his former brief visit with Lord Elgin when all was 
novel and fresh, and the strangers were received with 
naive enthusiasm before any complications had arisen 
were all delightful, the offer, as he says, was "extremely 
tempting," especially as it was in reality the first really 
official appointment which he had held. He arrived in 
Yedo (I adopt his own spelling of the word) in the end 
of June 1861, the Minister, Sir Rutherford Alcock, then 
Mr Alcock, being at the time absent, which constituted 
Laurence for the time being chargd d'affaires. His usual 
correspondence with his mother here unfortunately fails 
me ; but I am permitted to quote from a letter addressed 
to the Duchess of Somerset, which gives a very vivid rep- 
resentation of the state of affairs, and shows the changed 
condition of the Japanese mind towards the powerful in- 
vaders whom they had previously received with so much 
cordiality. This letter was written only a few days before 
the outrage which so completely changed his prospects. 

" YEDO, July 2 [1861]. 

" I am at present luxuriating in that feeling of repose 
which arises from having arrived at one's journey's end, 
and am agreeably surprised with the aspect of my future 
abode. Mr Alcock is still away, so that I found myself 
locum tenens immediately on my arrival. The important 
questions which are pending are of course left over until 
his return, and things are going on quietly enough, in so 
far as one's personal safety is concerned. That we shall 
have ultimately to join issue with the Japanese no one 


can doubt who watches for a moment the tone of their 
diplomacy; but I shall be able to write to you at more 
length upon that subject when I have been here a little 
longer. We expect the Admiral in a week or ten days, 
and I trust that when he comes he will see the expediency 
of keeping a large force in these parts. At present we 
have only one despatch gunboat for the whole of Japan. 
So far as we are concerned here, with a due amount of 
prudence and submission to Government restraint, there 
is no reason why any disturbance should arise; but at 
Yokohama, only seventeen miles off, there are upwards of 
a hundred Europeans, and their patience under the galling 
restraints to which they are subjected cannot always be 
counted upon. 

"I can imagine few places of residence more delight- 
ful than this, if that one all-pervading drawback of Gov- 
ernment surveillance were removed. In fact, a State 
prisoner would consider himself in clover, but a free- 
born Briton cannot regard matters in the same light. At 
Yokohama these restraints are much mitigated, and people 
may ride and walk where they like unattended ; but we 
here are never for a moment unwatched. The beauty of 
our pleasure-grounds, which consist of twenty or thirty 
acres of garden, wood, and water, is quite destroyed by 
the fact of three hundred guards being posted in them. 
If my servant runs after a butterfly, a two-sworded official 
runs after him ; and one post completely commands my 
rooms, so that my every act is noticed. As the whole is 
enclosed by a palisade, every gate is guarded. We are 
never attended by less than eight when we go out ; these 
scramble over the country after us, and prohibit our stop- 
ping to speak to the people, much more to shop in the town. 
Indeed there is no inducement to go into the town after 
one is familiar with it, as the streets are crowded and the 
chances of collision greater. As a general rule, our guard- 
ians exercise their functions with civility. When they are 
impertinent, as sometimes happens, one has to submit as 
one would to one's jailer. All this is rather trying, and 
is a useful exercise of temper. 

" It is due to Mr Alcock to say that his retirement to 


Kanogan produced a good effect, though it was a bold 
stroke, as, if the Government had not yielded, there was 
no escape from the dilemma. Practically one is perfectly 
safe if one is prudent, submits to discipline, and is respect- 
ful in one's bearing when one meets the native grandees 
or their retainers. For instance, on a narrow path the 
Englishman, if he desires to avoid a collision, makes way 
for the grandee's servant. Then there is no occasion to 
go out after dark, or to resent insulting expressions from 
intoxicated Yacomins. With entire humility one is in no 
danger whatever, and a truly sincere Christian who exer- 
cised the highest of Christian graces might live here in 
perfect safety all his life. All my old friends have disap- 
peared from the scene. One, who was an especial favour- 
ite of mine when I was here last, ripped himself up a short 
time ago ; and two of the other commissioners are disgraced, 
and it is supposed have followed his example. This was 
all on account of their friendship for foreigners. A man 
told me that he was struck by the subdued expression of 
my friend's countenance the other day when he went to 
see him ; but he had no suspicion that that high-spirited 
individual intended to put an end to himself. He had, in 
fact, already sent out cards of invitation for a 'happy 
despatch' party, and at the most jovial moment of the 
banquet he addressed his friends in a few telling words, 
and vindicated his honour in their presence. 

"Every one, down to the lowest interpreter, who has 
had anything to do with the introduction of the foreigners, 
has disappeared or been disgraced, and the hostile nobles 
do not hesitate to say that they are only waiting till they 
are better drilled and organised to go to war with us. In 
fact, they pay us the compliment of saying that we are 
the only nation they can go to war with, as we are the only 
nation from whom they can learn anything." 

This state of affairs was evidently an impossible one to 
last ; but its conclusion, so far as Oliphant was concerned, 
though most alarming and nearly tragical, was not a public 
outrage, but one that might have happened in any unset- 
tled country, the work of a handful of unauthorised ruffians; 


and the guard, whose inquisition was so intolerable to the 
gentlemen cooped up in the lodging which was thus made 
into a prison, seem to have defended them faithfully at the 
cost of several lives. The attack, which was of the most 
highly dramatic character, is perhaps one of the best known 
incidents in Oliphant's life. He has described it in the 
most vivid manner in his ' Episodes ' : and the letter in 
which he communicated the event to his mother, though 
with a few characteristic and individual touches of private 
sentiment, differs little from the after-narrative, and bears 
marks in its broken sentences and hurried contractions of 
the difficulty with which he still wrote. He had been 
only about a week in discharge of his functions, and had 
just been relieved of his responsibility as chief of the em- 
bassy by the arrival of Mr Alcock, when one night, having 
sat late to look at a comet, most fortunately, as it hap- 
pened, Laurence was startled by various sounds, the 
barking of a dog which he had attached to himself by 
kindness (which was a way he had with dogs as well as 
men), and which slept at his door, the sound of the rattle 
used by the Japanese watchmen, and other suspicious 
noises. Jumping up in the dark, he could find no weapon 
handy but a hunting-crop with a heavily weighted handle, 
with which he rushed out into the narrow passage on which 
his room opened, calling several members of the legation 
as he went. 

" Just as I turned the corner I came upon a tall black 
figure, with his arms above his head, holding a huge two- 
handed sword. As the only light came round the corner 
from E.'s room, I could only see indistinctly that the figure 
had a mask on, and seemed in armour. Short time for 
observation, had to dodge the sword, and get back a step 
to get at him with my whip, yelling loudly. It seemed 
like a nightmare, meeting a huge black figure coming in 
the night into your house to take stealthily your blood, 
whom you had never harmed. He made no sound: we 
were at it for a minute or two. I could not hope to do 
him much harm : my only object was to keep him at bay 
until somebody came ; nobody did. I soon got a cut in 


the right shoulder, and then managed to entangle his sword 
in the handle of the whip it has the marks. I could not 
see his blows, as it was dark ; but at length one came down 
on my left arm, which I instinctively had kept over my 
head as a guard. At the same moment Morison, who had 
time to load a pistol, opened his door and fired. The man 
dropped, but another fellow rushed at Morison and cut 
him over the head ; then both got back round the corner, 
the man on the ground only floored, the other fatally 
wounded. Morison and I retired." 

This is the first breathless account of the sudden fight 
in the dark. When the two wounded men fell back on 
the room in which two or three of their fellows were now 
gathered after a hurried search for arms, and in which 
there was a feeble light, an interval of terrible suspense 
occurred. Bligh, Oliphant's servant, had dashed through 
the paper partition of his room, to join the party with his 
double-barrelled gun : all the arms that could be mustered 
besides were two revolvers and a sword, and with these 
means of defence, paper walls and screens their only shel- 
ter, and two wounded men to hinder any escape, the little 
group stood listening for the renewed attack. Fortunately, 
however, the guards outside were faithful, and the assassins 
were successfully driven back, although fighting went on 
during the whole course of the anxious night. Next day 
Laurence, whose wounds had been bound up by Mr Alcock, 
was conveyed to the gunboat in the harbour, the Eingdove, 
" escorted by Alcock and whole mission, file of blue-jackets, 
second of Yacomins, all armed to teeth, a most pic. proces- 
sion," writes the sufferer, his eyes open under all circum- 
stances. " One's collar-bone sewn up prevents use of right 
arm yet ; other hurts are left arm, two cuts above wrist. 
Doctors promise better in three weeks." This was scrib- 
bled on the 10th of July, four days after the event. On 
the llth he goes on : " Better : first three days both arms 
had to be strapped across chest. Bligh fed me and nursed 
me in the tenderest manner ; but I alone here, captain and 
men on shore. Sleeping on back, with thermometer at 
85, trussed like a fowl, is difficult, but we are jolly." 


After some discussion of the position, the following note 
is added at the end : 

" My only thought that night was for you : for myself I 
am glad ; it made me know I could face death, which at 
one time seemed inevitable. I found my creed or philo- 
sophy quite satisfactory. I take everything as in the day's 
work, and that is why in one sense I do not feel thankful 
like others. I have such a profound feeling of being in 
God's hands, and having nothing to do with my own fate, 
that gratitude even would be presumption. If killed, I 
have no doubt my first feeling in the other world would 
be one of relief; just as my first feeling at not being killed 
was one of relief too. It seems to me to make no differ- 
ence : whatever is, is best ; and I feel I "could realise this 
amid considerable pain. Since wounded do not wish to 
complain ; acquiescence during short stay here no great 
heroism. I do not know that I should say so always ; but 
as yet I can, and I see it is the right thing. It must all 
end ; one has only to hold on, and feel sure that the use 
and object of it all will be evident. Meantime to do the 
right thing : 

Live I, so live I 
To my Lord heartily, 
To my Prince faithfully, 
To iny neighbour honestly, 
Die I, so die I. 

" If God is good, it must all come right in the end. I 
never doubt Him. I have got ' Thorndale ' on board, 
which is a most comfortable book." 

Four days later, he wrote that he was able to move his 
fingers, and the stitches were taken out of his shoulder ; 
and describes the cook, who in running away had received 
two dreadful gashes in the back, and could only lie on his 
stomach. " Very lucky I did not turn round to bolt," he 
says ; " if so, must have been cut down from behind. I 
owe my life to Morison coming up when he did, and R. 
and L. owe their lives to my stopping the two men who 
were hurrying along the passage within three yards of 


their doors." His opinion was that after this assault, 
which the Japanese elaborately made out to be an expres- 
sion of private hatred alone, and entirely unconnected 
with any official, the British Government had but two 
courses before it the one a war with Japan, the other 
withdrawal at once and summarily. " I don't depart from 
my old theoretical views. The result of our forcing our- 
selves upon people who never wanted us, has been to place 
us in the dilemma from which the only escape is one or 
other of the courses I have proposed. If we are withdrawn, 
I shall feel very much my tail between my legs ; if we go 
to war, I shall go in for looting daimios' palaces and feel a 
blackguard ! " 

Laurence discovered afterwards that the unaccountable 
ineffectiveness of his encounter with the Japanese ruffian 
was fully explained by the fact that the blows on both 
sides were rendered comparatively harmless by a great 
beam, which neither saw in the darkness, immediately 
over, their heads, and on which the sword and hunting- 
whip respectively had expended their blows. It was dis- 
covered to be slashed and dinted with the sword-cuts which 
ought to have killed the combatant on one side, and the 
blows which ought to have felled the assailant on the 
other. But for this it is almost impossible that Oliphant 
in his night-dress, with his loaded whip-handle, standing 
against an antagonist in a mail- coat and with a sword, 
could have escaped with his life. But in the meantime 
the all-important moments during which he kept back the 
assassins decided the failure of the attempt. " I believe 
our escape was mainly owing to the determined manner 
in which your son kept our assailants at bay for some 
time, till our guards came up," wrote one of the attacks 
to Lady Oliphant ; and I am tempted to quote entire the 
letter of Bligh the servant, who was ready to stand by his 
master to the death, but who chilled the very blood in his 
veins by his tragic whisper when the little group stood 
waiting for the rush which they expected every moment, 
" Do you think, sir, they will torture us before they kill 
us ? " Half fainting from loss of blood, unable to defend 
himself further whatever might happen, and with the 


certainty in his mind that escape was impossible, Laurence 
was lying in a chair, too dizzy and weak to mind what 
was happening, when all the blood remaining in his body 
was brought to his brain by these words. " This horrible 
suggestion brought out a cold perspiration," he says ; " and 
I trust I may never again experience the sensation of dread 
with which it inspired me." Bligh's letter, however, was 
more considerate than his speech. 

" LADY OLIPHANT, Believing a letter from me just now 
would be acceptable, I take the earliest opportunity. I have 
already disobeyed your commands in not writing before, 
for which I crave pardon, and can only now say a few words 
about the late occurrence. It was a very cowardly assault, 
but fortunately without the results intended. You may be 
quite comfortable about my master, whatever you hear to 
the contrary. He has a slight wound on the shoulder, the 
right side, and a cut on the left arm just above the wrist, 
which I am very glad to say are doing wonderfully well ; 
and am very happy to add my master's health is excellent, 
which, combined with the care of the kind and attentive 
surgeon of the Eingdove, with all due allowance for such 
wounds, within three weeks or one month my master will 
be himself again. He is very irritable at not having a 
more deadly weapon than the hunting-whip, so as to have 
floored his opponent. I believe had it not been for my 
master stopping the fellows when he did, so gallantly and 
quite unsupported, we should have had a different tale to 
tell. I may add, three or four of the fellows were killed 
and as many taken. 

" Hoping this short letter will meet your approbation, I 
beg to remain, your ladyship's humble servant, 


This good fellow had been engaged in helping his master 
to form an entomological collection for the British Mu- 
seum, " running after butterflies," as Laurence describes. 
They had found a rare beetle, to their pride and joy, a day 
or two before ; and the tragic, half -seen, black figures, in- 
vading the sleeping house in the dark, gave note of their 


stealthy coming to Bligh by stumbling over the tray full 
of sharp pins upon which the insects were impaled a 
curious mixture, half comic, as so many tragic occurrences 

It was considered right that Laurence should return 
home with the news of the condition of the embassy, and 
the necessity for taking some decided steps to secure their 
safety and dignity, or withdrawal as soon as he was able 
to travel. He had a curious commission on his way to 
find out and warn off a Eussian man-of-war, which had 
stolen into a secluded island-harbour in the face of all 
treaties, and was then ensconced guiltily in the shelter of 
the endless windings of the waters, surveying and preparing 
for anything that might happen in the future. Laurence 
was so far recovered that he was able to carry out this 
commission with his usual coolness and success, and caught 
the Eussians, without warning, in this curious secret em- 
ployment. He returned home within a few months from 
the time he left London, and he never again returned to 
the diplomatic service. He had only been about ten days 
in his post : this was all the actual and formal employ- 
ment given him directly by the Government, without the 
intervention of any such powerful and friendly patron as 
Lord Elgin. 



NOTWITHSTANDING the consequences of his wounds, which 
he felt for some time indeed he never fully recovered the 
use of his left hand, several of the fingers of which were 
permanently disabled it was not for long that Laurence 
could persuade himself to keep still and recover his strength 
in quiet. It is difficult to make out, from any certain 
information, whether he had some mission of inquiry in 
hand, either from the Government or the ' Times,' or was 
merely working on his personal impulse, with that thirst 
to know all the intricacies of foreign politics which was 


always strong in him, when he set out again, in the leisure 
of his sick-leave, on a journey much more serious than the 
usual wanderings of convalescence. I believe, however, I 
am right in saying that many, if not all, of his apparently 
personal travels at this period of his life were in reality 
charged with a political object, and that his wildest wan- 
derings and farthest afield were in the public service. It 
was his luck a kind of good fortune which was constantly 
befalling him to encounter at Vienna the Prince of Wales 
and his suite, then, in the beginning of 1862, on their way 
to the Holy Land, and to be invited to accompany them 
for a portion of their way, as far as Corfu. The Prince of 
Wales was then a very young man, and his character as 
yet unknown to the nation, which has learnt to know and 
esteem its fine qualities since then ; and it is interesting 
to read the early estimate of the royal youth forme'd by so 
keen an observer : 

" As I had already been to all the places on the Adriatic 
coast at which we touched, and was able to do cicerone, I 
spent a most pleasant ten days, at the same time doing a 
little quiet political observation. I was delighted with 
the Prince, and thought he was rarely done justice to 
in public estimation : he is not studious nor highly intel- 
lectual, but he is up to the average in this respect, and 
beyond it in so far as quickness of observation and general 
intelligence go. Travelling is, therefore, the best sort of 
education he could have, and I think his development 
will be far higher than people anticipate. Then his tem- 
per and disposition are charming. His defects are rather 
the inevitable consequences of his position, which never 
allows him any responsibility, or forces him into action." 

From Corfu Laurence crossed over the mainland within 
the line of those blue mountains of Albania, which rise 
with so much soft majesty over the sea. The country 
was then, as perpetually in its history, distracted with 
wars and tumults, little comprehensible to the rest of 
the world ; but which he was of opinion would one 
time or another force themselves upon the general con- 


sideration, an opinion which those who are acquainted 
with the commotions and revolutions going on in the 
out-of-the-way corners of the earth are very apt to 
entertain, since it seems incredible that matters so 
momentous on the scene of operations should not affect 
sooner or later the larger mass of the body politic, the 
band of nations which make up what we call the world. 
"I was very much struck," he says, "with the popular 
ignorance which prevailed in this country in regard to the 
revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which finally led to 
the Eusso-Turkish war. At the outbreak of that move- 
ment, the press, so far as I remember without an exception, 
assumed that it was a revolt of Christians against Turks, 
and I found the same impression existed even among 
members of the Cabinet ; the fact being that it was an 
agrarian rising of Slav Christian peasants against Slav 
Moslem landlords, very much analogous in many aspects 
to our own landlord and tenant question in Ireland." 

He does not, however, tell us on which side were his 
own sympathies, though he speaks of being the guest, in 
Herzegovina, of one of the landlords thus described. 
Whether it was with this rural dignitary, or with some 
expedition on the other side, that he himself went out 
to taste that whiff of war which he could never resist, 
there is no information. " We went out one day to do a 
little skirmishing," he says in the letter already quoted; 
" but we found the enemy, who had occupied the place in 
force the day before, had retired, so we had a ' walk over.' 
I found a great deal that was of political interest going on, 
or rather germinating, and indited a despatch accordingly. 
Nothing can be worse than the present condition of the 
Turkish provinces, and when taken in connection with the 
row, the prospect looks bad." 

He was not then aware how much he would have to do 
with the Turkish sway in after- years, nor was he yet 
personally acquainted with that exasperation which it 
seems capable beyond all other governments (which is 
saying a great deal) of raising in the mind. The following 
curious anticipation would seem to have referred to some 
project of State which was never carried out : " I do not 


see how Venice is to be freed except at the price of the 
Ionian Isles. I know you don't care about that; but I 
think it is hardly fair that while the Emperor makes by 
freeing Italy, we should lose by the same transaction." 
Does this, one wonders, refer to some passing project of 
handing over the islands to Austria as a compensation for 
the loss of the Veneto : which changed into a determina- 
tion to give them away to somebody, as often happens 
when a present is determined upon, and the first proposed 
recipient fails ? 

This expedition concluded with several amusing adven- 
tures, all set forth in the most charming way in chapter 
xii. of the 'Episodes.' On his way through the wild 
region of the Abruzzi, then scarcely known to travellers, 
and unsafe without a strong escort, he received in one in- 
stance an enthusiastic reception as the supposed nephew 
of Lord Palmerston; and in another came upon a most 
curious official, in the shape of the wife of the English 
vice-consul, who had been for some time exercising such 
small duties as appertained to his office, the husband 
having deserted her and his post simultaneously. But 
naturally this strange substitute was unable to act in the 
political business which Oliphant had in hand. It was 
here, too, in the little port of Manfredonia, that he received 
the following invitation: "Miss Thimbleby requests the 
pleasure of English gentleman's company to tea to-night 
at nine o'clock. Old English style;" and accepting it, 
found a quaint little fossil of an Englishwoman, "very old, 
well on in the nineties," " a little old woman like a witch," 
with whom he drank tea solemnly, and to whom no doubt 
he made himself as delightful as if she had been young, 
beautiful, and a duchess. She was a sister of Mrs Jordan 
the actress, of all people in the world. 

In a prison in one of the little towns which he visited, 
and where the captured brigands were the chief object of 
curiosity, Laurence saw " the beautiful wife of a notorious 
chief of one of the bands, who had been captured dressed 
in man's clothes, and using her pistol with such effect 
that she seriously wounded a soldier before she was taken 
prisoner," which incident no doubt suggested to him the 



extremely amusing story of the " Brigand's Bride," pub- 
lished some time afterwards in ' Blackwood's Magazine,' 
and reprinted in a little volume called ' Fashionable Philo- 
sophy.' It is not a tale which professes to be authentic ; 
but the humorous dare-devil of the story has a sufficient 
family resemblance to our active explorer who pushed 
his way everywhere, feared nothing, and delighted above 
all in strange and novel experiences of humanity to 
make him interesting, even with the fantastic accessories 
of the air-gun, and the wondering timorous population, 
which is done to the life. It is easy to imagine Laurence 
himself seated, like his hero, outside the chemist's door, 
the usual gossiping-place of the provincial Italian, with 
the notary and doctor and priest and the Sindaco of the 
little town, acute but ignorant, Imaging upon his lips, 
knowing nothing of England but its greatness and the 
eccentricity of the Inglese, and Palmerston the fetich of 
the age ; and receiving all the wonderful stories told them 
with a faith tempered by surprise, and the keenness of that 
Italian intelligence which understands humour better than 
any other Continental nation. The reader would do well 
to take in the wild fun and extravagance of this story to 
the more sober record, not as fact, but as a must amusing 
and vivid illustration of the wanderer's possibilities, and 
of that characteristic rural yet urban life. Nowadays the 
traveller on his rush to India passes Foggia and the other 
little towns of the coast at something as near express speed 
as is possible in Italy and no doubt they must have gone 
through certain revolutions in consequence ; but the gossips 
still sit round the apothecary's door in the soft evenings, 
although some smatterings of knowledge may have pene- 
trated, with much politics and the newspaper, into their 
antiquated society. 

On his return from this expedition it became necessary 
for Laurence to decide whether he should or should not 
return to his post in Japan. The alternative was to do 
this or to retire altogether from the diplomatic service, 
and all the hopes involved in it. " It was with great 
regret," he says, " that I found myself compelled by family 
considerations to adopt the latter alternative, and abandon 


a career which had at that time peculiar attractions for 
me, and in which, considering my age, I had made rapid 
progress." Had he returned to Japan, it would have been 
to the highly important position of cliargt, d'affaires, which 
could not have failed to lead to continuous and profitable 
employment, and represented indeed the ball at his foot 
so far as diplomatic service was concerned ; but there can 
be little doubt that the anxieties of his mother, after the 
dreadful experience she had passed through at the time of 
his wound and illness, were not to be trifled with, and that 
it was in consideration for her very natural feelings that 
he gave up the far-distant and dangerous post. 

It was one thing, however, to give .up Japan, and 
another to give up the travel and adventure which were 
his very life ; and accordingly not many months had 
elapsed before he was afloat again. "In January 1863 
the Polish insurrection broke out ; and as," he says with 
frank humour, " I had by this time acquired a habit of 
fishing in troubled waters, I determined to go and see it." 
Once more I must refer the reader to the ' Episodes ' for 
the account of this interesting historical event. The evolu- 
tions of foreign politics are always difficult to follow, and 
the difficulty is largely increased when it is the outs and 
ins of popular feeling and the policy of an insurrection, 
even when so important as to be called a national move- 
ment, that are in question. Laurence penetrated into the 
councils of the unfortunate Poles, who were playing so 
tragic a game, and into one of the camps of the insurgents, 
a stray corps, pathetically small and defenceless, but ani- 
mated by such a fire of enthusiasm as kindled the very 
heart of the spectator, open as that was to all generous 
sympathies. He made this visit at peril of his life, with 
a perfect consciousness that the Cossacks were very little 
discriminating, and would not have stopped to inquire 
what a wandering Englishman had to do dans cette galire, 
or to respect his nationality, had they chanced to come 
upon the little agitated party who had escorted him to the 
camp. He must, however, have had that confidence in 
his own fate which a man who has made a hundred hair- 
breadth escapes naturally has. 


His picture of the camp in the woods, almost within 
hearing of a Eussian army, where every man held his life 
in his hands, is singularly impressive and interesting. 
When the whole party united in the Polish national song, 
the effect was overwhelming. 

"When all joined in the grand prayer to God which 
forms the swelling chorus, and the men, with swords drawn, 
uplifted their arms in supplication, the tears streamed 
down the cheeks of the women as they sang, for they re- 
membered their sisters slain on their knees in the churches 
at Warsaw for doing the same, and bloody memories 
crowded on them, as, with voices trembling from emotion, 
they besought, in solemn strains, the mercy of the Most 
High. The scene was so full of dramatic effect that I 
scarcely believed in its reality till I remembered the exist- 
ence of six thousand Russian soldiers in the immediate 
neighbourhood, who were thirsting for the blood of this 
little band of men and women. There was something 
practical in this consideration calculated to captivate a 
mind too prosaic to be stirred by theatrical representa- 
tions ; for I confess I find it generally more easy to delude 
myself by believing in the sham of a reality, than in the 
reality of a sham. However, upon this occasion he must 
have been a most uncompromising stoic who was not 
touched and impressed." 

I quote the above passage chiefly from the curious little 
bit of self -disclosure which betrays the Scotch nationality 
of a man so cosmopolitan. Many Englishmen, and almost 
every Scot, will sympathise with this suspiciousness in 
respect to theatrical circumstances and instinctive horror 
of the sham, which sometimes reacts upon his appreciation 
of the true. That this keen intuitive criticism should 
exist in a spirit open to every enthusiasm and full of sym- 
pathy, in this particular case, may astonish those who are 
not familiar with that remarkable and most interesting 
development ; and it all throws a very singular light upon 
his own after-career. 

In the course of the same year, after a brief return to 


England, Laurence once more set out for the same distant 
and little-known region. The portion of his correspon- 
dence which refers to this period of his life has not fallen 
into my hands ; but there is no doubt that all these re- 
peated journeys had their distinct political object, and 
were far from being the mere adventures they seem. Only 
a short time had elapsed since his previous visit, and yet 
it was long enough to permit the downfall of the Polish 
hopes, the imprisonment and death of many of the friends 
who had then received him, and the all but suppression of 
the revolt. As it still lived, however, in out-of-the-way 
corners, and still entertained pathetic hopes, never to be 
fulfilled, of French or English intervention, the deep in- 
terest which Oliphant felt in the brave men who had wel- 
comed him so kindly, impelled him to another visit, though 
the expedition was full of risk. He was accompanied by 
a friend, the Hon. Evelyn Ashley, and their object was to 
penetrate into the Russian provinces of Volhynia, where 
it was believed that revolution was smouldering, if not yet 
accompanied by any perceptible blaze. It is curious that 
he should thus have made his way over ground which, 
many years after, he was again to traverse in the interests 
of the Jews a people who did not in any degree commend 
themselves to him during this first journey. The attempt 
to penetrate into the disaffected province was, however, 
wholly ineffectual ; and after some adventures, which are 
amusing enough in the narrative though far from amusing 
in the experience, the Englishmen were turned back, and 
made a masterly retreat to Jassy, where, on the invitation 
of a nun encountered in a box at the opera a most re- 
markable scene for such a meeting Laurence and his 
companion made a most amusing and picturesque tour in 
Moldavia, proceeding from one convent to another, each 
more piquant and interesting than the one preceding it, 
in which companies of recluses lived in the most liberal 
and uncontrolled manner, the nuns, like Flemish Beguines, 
in little cottages picturesquely grouped together, and both 
monks and nuns surrounded by blooming gardens, and 
much that was calculated to make life agreeable. This 
was perhaps the only detour among many journeys which 


had no political meaning, though it furnished a most agree- 
able article for ' Blackwood ' and a delightful chapter in 
the ' Episodes.' 

At the end of this pleasant break in his exciting life, he 
turned his steps northwards in another direction where 
trouble was brewing, always the greatest attraction, not- 
withstanding his keen enjoyment of every novelty in 
human life. This time it was to Schleswig-Holstein, then 
enveloped in the smoke and fumes of a contention which 
nobody at least within our four seas understood, that he 
went to study the disputed succession and all the questions 
involved. " As confessedly it was one which the British 
statesmen of the day considered beyond their comprehen- 
sion, and as the British public never even tried to under- 
stand it, it was no wonder that our policy was mistaken 
throughout. When a question has more than two sides, 
the popular intelligence fails to grasp it. As most ques- 
tions of foreign policy have generally three at least, and 
sometimes more, and as Ministers are compelled to adopt 
the popular view if they wish to retain office, the foreign 
policy of England is usually characterised by a charming 
simplicity, not always conducive to the highest interests 
of the country." 

The question in this case was a triangular one, the little 
Schleswig-Holstein desiring its own sovereign and a peace- 
able small independence, while spectators at a distance 
considered the conflict to be one between the Danes and 
Prussians for the possession of a coveted morsel of which 
the nationality was just doubtful enough to give to each a 
certain claim. In the distant eddies of opinions in those 
days I remember that the French Government was warmly 
censured for not taking energetic action on behalf of the 
Poles, their traditionary allies and protfyts, while Great 
Britain was equally blamed for not interfering to defend 
the rights of the Danes. I recollect overhearing upon the 
deck of a steamboat on the lake of Como an animated 
discussion on the subject between some Italian gentlemen, 
whose energetic denunciation of the British Government 
as " un governo infame," in consequence of their desertion 
of Denmark, was loud and vigorous. Laurence, however, 


held a very different view : his sympathies were with 
neither of the greater contending parties, but for the 
Duke of Sonderburg - Augustenburg, whose claims were 
overlooked on both sides. 

This was the last of these purely political adventures in 
which a thirst for information, the desire of novelty and 
excitement, and a certain ambition to know thoroughly 
and make himself an authority upon the most compli- 
cated questions of European politics, were the ostensible 
motives. Though he is always individual and interesting 
in whatever he writes, the hundred little personal revela- 
tions of his private correspondence are wanting in these 
bustling but unproductive years, in which he seems to 
have worked off a great deal of superabundant energy, and 
gradually calmed and settled down into a state of mind 
adapted to residence at home, and the routine of ordinary 
English life. He was now, in 1864, when he returned 
to England from the battle which settled the fate of 
Schleswig - Holstein, a man of thirty -five, in the height 
of life and faculty, with an extraordinary knowledge of 
the world and mankind. The reader may think, perhaps, 
that such experiences as those of Japan and Circassia 
were not entirely adapted to form him for the localities of 
Mayfair and St Stephen's. It must, however, be remem- 
bered that between his journeys there had interposed 
on many occasions a slice of society, usually at its most 
animated and gayest moment; that he knew everybody 
at home as well as abroad, British Ministers as well as 
Chinese mandarins, literary circles as well as political, 
and fashionable circles better than either; that he had 
friends everywhere, among both small and great, and was 
acquainted with English life to its depths, but especially 
with the representative classes which we call the " world," 
and in which the brightest intelligence and grace, as 
well as the most perfect frivolity and foolishness, are to be 
found. He knew these classes, understood their import- 
ance and their worth, and scorned their social superiority 
while esteeming it, in full consciousness of the paradox 
which existed both in them and in himself. He saw 
through every social pretence with the keenest glance of 


intelligence and humour, and never hesitated to impale 
any offender upon his shining spear, or laugh at any 
absurdity ; yet instinctively held by that world to which, 
satirist and revolutionary as he was, he belonged, and felt 
himself at home in it, as he never was in less distinguished 
but possibly more genuine spheres. This curious distinc- 
tion was never more clearly evidenced than in Laurence 
Oliphant's life. He was not rich : his ancient race had 
never been of great pretensions, or with claims beyond the 
modest gentlehood of the county to which it belonged: 
yet his standing-ground throughout his life was that of 
society; and the world of fashion, though he mocked it 
continually, and shot a thousand darts at its mannerisms 
and follies, was, after all, his natural sphere. 

It was in the year 1864 that Laurence returned home 
more or less " for good," with the determination of finding, 
if possible, settled employment in England, or at least 
carving out some occupation for himself which would 
permit him to have a settled home there, and relieve and 
cheer his mother's loneliness. I think her comfort must 
have been his great motive in this determination, and 
perhaps, too, a little disgust with the public service in 
distant parts of the earth, where the best efforts of one 
representative of England were apt to be altogether dis- 
credited by the actions of another, or by misadventure, or 
by Government neglect, as happened in the case of Lord 
Elgin whose proceedings were subjected to endless anim- 
adversion as incomplete and unsatisfactory, as soon as the 
next difficulty with China arose. The interval which 
elapsed between Oliphant's return from his late wanderings 
and his election to Parliament was most actively and fully 
taken up, although he held no appointment ; and what 
between literature, society, lectures which he seems to 
have given in many places, generally with a view to the 
future election and visits, his mind at this time was fully 
occupied. He had always, or almost always, a book pre- 
paring for the press, always a round of country-houses 
attending his leisure, always a hundred engagements in 
town. I find a succession of letters recounting the ex- 
periences of one autumn, which I at first concluded to 


belong to this period, difficult as the chronology is always, 
for his correspondence as usual is completely destitute of 
dates, but which in reality belongs to the conclusion of 
1859, after his first China expedition. However, it does 
very well as an example of how his autumns were gener- 
ally spent, and the reader will, I hope, admit the retro- 
spective glance. 

He was coquetting with various constituencies at the 
time, in a series of experiences, repeated a few years 
later; hoping to move the heart of Glasgow, but not 
unwilling to content himself with Greenock, and with 
a steadfast eye upon the Stirling burghs, as the sober 
certainty upon which he could always fall back. His 
letters are full of amusing sketches of the people among 
whom he moved ; from the lively and distinguished visi- 
tors in country-houses to the chance companions he picked 
up in railway carriages, of one of whom, for example, he 
writes : " Had a delightful journey, my companion being a 
young man from London in the wholesale woollen and 
stuff trade, from whom I derived much useful informa- 
tion." This " delightful journey " carried him to Sir 
James Clarke's house of Birk Hall, where he met " a most 
learned and delightful party (including Professor Owen, Sir 
Charles Lyell, and various others of the same calibre), all 
savants of the first water, and consequently most agreeable 
and entertaining society. I wish I could always live in 
it." The leap from the young man in the woollen trade 
to these high potentates is long enough ; but they were 
equally interesting to his always eager and lively intelli- 
gence, and nothing could give a better idea of his universal 
interest in human life and character. 

The occasion on which he met this delightful party was 
a meeting of the British Association at Aberdeen, where 
he took a considerable share in the proceedings, along 
with Captain Sherard Osborn, Captain Speke, and other 
travellers of authority, and read a paper in the Geo- 
graphical Section upon Japan, which was at the period his 
special subject. He gave as usual a brief, but lively, 
description of this to his mother in London : 


" I wish you had cared as little for the ordeal of reading 
a paper as I did. There was nothing on earth to be 
nervous about. The hall was crowded to the door, and 
they listened with great attention for the forty minutes 
which my paper lasted, and cheered me vociferously 
when it was over, so I suppose it pleased them. I 
have promised to lecture at Leeds on the state of our 
political relations with China. If I can't say what I 
want in the House of Commons, I must find some other 
place. I will get it fully reported in the ' Times.' " 

Other proposals to the same effect poured upon him. 
He was asked to Glasgow to discourse: at one time to 
the merchants in the Chamber of Commerce, " who are 
coming in a select body to hear me, a regular business 
lecture," " no ladies admitted," he adds regretfully ; at 
another to the Young Men's Christian Association. " I 
shall have treated Japan in every variety of way before I 
have done," he says. He had also lectures to deliver at 
Dunfermline, at Stirling, at Greenock, and was invited by 
the Philosophical Institution in Edinburgh to deliver two, 
all on the same subject of Japan. The last proposal was 
accompanied by an offer of 20 for the two lectures, which 
does not seem a large sum, but which he considers " not to 
be despised." He was also moved by the fact that " only 
distinguished men lectured there, and the audience is large 
and important." " I never expected to turn popular 
lecturer," he says; "I have not sought to be pushed 
forward in this way, but seeing that I am without any 
special occupation in London, I think I ought to do what 
comes to my hand." He had, besides, the strong induce- 
ment of a desire " to get hold of Glasgow," " which would 
give me a position in the House of Commons," he says, 
" above what a young man could expect." And indeed 
there seem to have been vague negotiations on this 
subject, invitations to stand from " a Glasgow body," 
whom he evidently considered without sufficient authority. 
Laurence desired nothing more than to be asked to 
stand ; but he was wise enough not to commit himself, 
even on the warrant of his enthusiastic reception, and 


the compliments of the Glasgow potentates, while the 
fumes of his lecture were still in their heads. At 
Greenock he had an amusing experience, which I think 
he describes in one of his books, but of which I will 
quote all the report to his mother, at first hand. He was 
disappointed and half offended on arriving to find no one 
in waiting to meet him, and to have to find his way 
by himself to the hotel. 

" However, the secretary came at last to show me the 
way to the Free Kirk where I was to lecture. Dunlop 
was not in the chair, having been detained in Edinburgh, 
so the sheriff presided instead. I was somewhat dismayed 
to find myself mounting the steps of a very high pulpit, 
and looking down upon the upturned faces of about twelve 
hundred people, who crammed the church to overflowing ; 
still more dismayed to hear the minister, who occupied 
the precentor's desk beneath me, call upon the congrega- 
tion to join him in prayer which was a very long one, a 
great part of it personal to myself, and asking a blessing 
upon the discourse I was about to enter upon. I began 
to think I would try my hand at a sermon, as the lecture 
I was going to give was likely to be far too full of jokes to 
be appropriate to the occasion. However, I discoursed at 
starting on Japan as a field for missionary enterprise, and 
then, finding I had a sympathetic audience, I was more 
light and airy, until at last I kept them all in a highly 
amused condition. I looked over my red pulpit cushion 
and saw the old minister giggling immensely. Altogether 
I think it was the most successful lecture I have given. 
I despise even notes now, and find practice is improving 
my delivery. Nor did I feel the least fatigued. Four of 
the leading people were profuse in their apologies after- 
wards for the coolness of my reception, which they 
declared was a mistake. I am to go a round of visits 
with one of them this morning." 

These coquettings with the busy towns and cities of the 
west of Scotland did not, however, come to anything ; and 
when the decisive moment arrived, it was to Stirling. 


where his name itself was a recommendation and his 
family so well known, that he turned. He had already 
contested these burghs, unsuccessfully but hopefully, 
before going to China an incident of which I find 
scarcely any record except of the mere fact, and that he 
had much enjoyed the business of canvassing, in which 
his father, also greatly amused and excited, as was the 
character of the family, had helped and accompanied him. 
His reflections on this subject, on a renewed visit to Stir- 
ling, are touching and full of feeling. He gives an account of 
a brief visit to Stirling on his way to Broomhall, the home 
of Lord Elgin, and his meeting with his former agents : 

" They declare they can bring me in against Caird next 
time, if I wish it. The few of my old supporters whom I 
saw are most enthusiastic. I have a strong body of 
friends in Stirling. I feel quite melancholy in renewing 
all these associations, however : they recall papa so vividly 
to my mind. He has been so warmly mentioned by several 
persons to me. They got to like him so much. M'Farlane 
says that the look of him as he walked down the street got 
me votes." 

This pretty and very Scotch touch of affectionate hyper- 
bole is affecting, between the smile and the tear, and was 
no doubt spoken with water in the eyes of the plain 
Stirling "writer" so unexpectedly poetical. 

As a background to these public appearances, comes a 
lively and shifting panorama of Scotch country-houses, in 
which there are many vivid glimpses of individual char- 
acter and manners. Laurence was not superior to gossip 
on occasion, as perhaps it is impossible for a man so full 
of interest in his fellow-creatures to be ; but he had not 
time or inclination to send to his mother anything more 
than a rapid apergu here and there of the individualities 
with which he was brought into contact. There is but 
one case, I think, in which a private and painful imbroglio 
of real life is referred to ; and in that case both mother 
and son were actively employed in smoothing down and 
clearing up the unfortunate difficulty, in the course of 


which the young man gives vent to various judgments 
upon the impossibility of Platonic attachments, for in- 
stance (afterwards the chief doctrine and belief of his life), 
which are very authoritative and decided ; but offers him- 
self, as few men would be likely to do, as the agent to 
bring " the man," the disturber of domestic happiness, to 
reason, and to convince him, not without reference to his 
own (Laurence's) private experiences, of the necessity of 
absolute withdrawal. 

I am happy to say, however, that, in contradistinction 
to so many series of correspondence that have been made 
open to the world, there is no scandal, no piquant stories, 
no indiscretions or betrayals, in these ever lively and 
graphic letters. If he sometimes speaks in his books as if 
he believed all society to be corrupt, he finds, as a sane 
and wholesome man should do, no trace of corruption in 
the households that receive him nothing but points of 
character, cheerful indications of identity, something to 
like and to please everywhere. As usual, the young ladies 
call for a great deal of his attention, and " a walk with the 
lassies " in the afternoon, after he has got through his work, 
was a very favourite amusement. Indeed there is a little 
glamour of easy sentiment in his eyes as he goes from one 
circle to another, always ready for a touch of pleasant 
emotion, and by no means unwilling to be awakened to 
deeper feelings. " I am deeply in love with them all," he 
says of a bevy of pretty sisters, which no doubt was con- 
solatory to the mind of the mother, always uneasy on this 
point. One lady, whom he had already admired and 
speculated a little upon, is more particularly discussed. 
Some one has been describing her to him in the highest 
terms. " She has a charming disposition, thoroughly un- 
selfish but muckle hands and feet ! What is that, you 
will say, to good mental qualities ? I don't think she is 
the least brilliant, but with very good common-sense. In 
fact, she would suit you perfectly. As for myself, I de- 
spair of finding any one ; probably when I do, she will be 
an aversion unto you." 

While thus living with his work and his lectures, and 
his afternoon walk with the " lassies " of the house, his 


reports of himself are exceedingly cheerful : " Whenever 
I can dispose of my time to my own satisfaction between 
innocent recreation and profitable employment, I am 
happy ; but, when employment is wanting, the recreation 
often ceases to be innocent, ' Satan finding some mischief 
still/ &c. And when the recreation is wanting, as in 
Edinburgh, I become low-spirited and depressed." 

The light-hearted reports of his letters inform us at 
second-hand through his mother of such incidents as his 
performances at a tenants' ball in a house where he 
" danced reels violently till 3 A.M., and woke so fresh at 
seven that I wrote my book till eleven o'clock, when the 
rest of the knocked-up world at last came to breakfast " : 
how he gravely interviewed a young man in an office who 
" wants me to put him in the same line of life I have 
followed myself, as he hates the writer's desk ; but I don't 
know how that is to be done." How he discusses theol- 
ogy everywhere whenever he has a chance, " exchanging 
' Thorndale' with Lady A. for two of Maurice's works"; and 
finding a great savant "utterly off the line in secret, and con- 
firmed by recent geological discoveries, but he is afraid to 
publish. I urged him strongly to go in for truth, ruat ccelum. 
He said, ' Nobody with less than 3000 a-year can afford to 
hold my views,'" which does not say very much for the phil- 
osopher. All this shows the versatility of mind with which 
he leaped lightly from one subject to another, with a lively 
interest in all. He was not disposed, I am sorry to say, to 
church-going, professing " a terrible tendency to ague in 
the draughts of country churches, but not saying anything 
about a much greater dread which I have of country 
parsons." Once at a service of the kind called Puseyite 
in those days, he declared it to be "like badly got-up 
Buddhism." He describes a popular clergyman of the time 
as " a man with the mind of a woman and the voice of a 
trumpet, very aggravating but amiable." But on the occa- 
sion of a visit to Glasgow, he declares with much warmth, 
" Norman Macleod is a trump. He and Guthrie are the 
only decent parsons I know." His enjoyment of the life 
thus described is very clearly set forth in one of his letters, 
and all its delights, not without a little natural complacence, 


while yet he anticipates with philosophy the need for set- 
tling down in a more humble way : 

" My life is necessarily (in general) a good deal made up 
of excitements and reactions ; for instance, just now here 
I am scarcely able to turn, for a press both of business and 
pleasure. Half-a-dozen lectures to prepare, proofs con- 
stantly to correct, and book not yet finished. Charming 
women at hand when I am inclined for a cosy chair in the 
drawing-room and a touch of the aesthetic. Any amount 
of game merely for the trouble of strolling through a few 
turnip-fields: A. and I killed twenty-one brace of par- 
tridges the day before yesterday. Any number of horses 
to ride all the more to be appreciated after two years of 
filth, heat, and absence of social and intellectual enjoyment. 
But I hope I shall not be such a goose as to growl at Lon- 
don because I have enjoyed myself here. If I see my way 
to being comfortably independent, and am allowed that 
amount of personal liberty which, from being so much 
my own master, I am accustomed to, I think you will find 
me a happy and contented companion in our lodging, even 
though occupation and pleasure are both suddenly slack. 
I should be more than ungrateful if I were not thankful 
for the blessing of having you to share it with me." 

That this sentiment was thoroughly sincere, every line 
of his letters testifies ; but yet there were times when his 
mother's continual anxiety to have his " serious thoughts," 
as well as the lighter record of his sayings and doings, 
communicated to her, brings a momentary touch of half- 
comic irritation. "You must be philosophical as to the 
condition of my spiritual being," he says ; and while telling 
her of one after another of the great ladies, his friends, 
who desire to make her acquaintance, and whose some- 
what puzzled admiration of the close bond between 
mother and son is apparent, he adds an amusing story 
told him by one of them, of a certain old Lady Campbell 
who had, like Lady Oliphant, one dearly beloved and 
perfect son but no more. " One day at prayers, when the 
minister was saying, ' For there is no good in us, and we 


are every one of us miserable sinners,' she was heard 
audibly to protest, ' Oh, no' rny Airchy, no' my Airchy ! ' ' 
The application was easy. 

The year 1865, however, forms a definite era in his life. 
His wanderings, his vagaries of mind and thought, even 
his impatience with the imperfections of so-called re- 
ligious persons and desire of finding some better way, had 
plunged him during the two or three previous years more 
and more, whenever it was within his reach, into the 
excitement of society, which was at once an antidote to 
the restlessness of thought, and which the attitude he 
repeatedly compares to that of Mr Micawber, of waiting 
for something to turn up, made a necessity to him. For 
where was he to find the patron, the appointment on 
which his mind was set, save among the great personages, 
holders of power and influence, who were to be met with 
there? I do not pretend to be able to give a history 
of his social experiences during the intervals when he 
reappeared in London, always with the tclat of some 
new performance or event the successes of China, the 
hairbreadth escape of Japan, the mysterious politics of 
mid - Europe something always fresh and unknown, to 
surround him with attraction. Probably it involved epi- 
sodes of another kind from those of adventure, and in 
which his heart was more deeply concerned ; and it is by 
no means unlikely that, on the eve of a great religious 
change, the current of his life may have run more high in 
other directions, and the impetus of existence at its fullest 
force have carried him further than conscience approved 
thus adding a deeper need to the necessity always felt 
of a new foundation, and a sharper point to his prevailing 
consciousness of the imperfections in him and about him, 
the hollowness of social pretences, and the difficulty of 
holding the right way in a society which condoned moral 
failure so easily, and was only inexorable to poverty and 
social defeat. 

In this year, however, these wanderings and waitings 
came to an end, and Laurence's election as member for the 
Stirling burghs fixed his residence in town, and seemed 
to all his friends the beginning of a brilliant and useful 


career. That he had every endowment and faculty likely 
to make his new position a satisfactory one need scarcely 
be said. He was no recluse, likely to be intimidated 
by that so - called " august assembly," he had full habit 
and usage of the world, and was thoroughly acquainted 
with the atmosphere of political life. The reasons which 
brought about another result, and the disappointment of 
many of the hopes conceived by his friends, if not by 
himself, will become apparent further on. I cannot doubt 
that he was pleased with the new beginning of life, at 
least in its first stage. It had been in his mind from the 
very commencement of his career as the alternative to the 
life of diplomacy, which was what had commended itself 
to him most. And he took it up heartily, hoping to play 
an important part in the history of his country. He had 
contested the Stirling burghs once, if not twice, before, 
the first time while still very young, in his father's life- 
time, before the China expedition, and he had many 
humorous stories to tell of the incidents of his canvassing. 
One of these, of which a friend tells me, describes how he 
was taken to one person of influence after another, the 
most important of all being a cobbler, ensconced in a dark 
little shop approached by two or three steps leading 
downwards below the level of the street. Here he under- 
went the process of " heckling " with much severity, and 
was put through his political catechism so entirely to the 
satisfaction of the shoemaker politician, that he smote the 
candidate upon the shoulder in the intensity of his satis- 
faction, exclaiming, " You're the billie for me ! " 

This event was to all appearance and human likelihood 
the beginning of a mature and established life. It was in 
reality no such thing, but only a transition period a 
temporary pause and point between the life which he had 
lived like other men, and another so unique and extra- 
ordinary as to separate him from all his fellows. But 
this time of transition was in itself signalised by so much 
that was brilliant and remarkable in the development of 
his mind and genius, as to form a special and most im- 
portant chapter in his career. His intellect seemed to 
have reached a sudden climax of energy, wit, and power, 



and his whole nature burst forth in an overflow of gifts 
which hitherto had been restrained in channels inappro- 
priate to their full exhibition, in a kind of riot of fancy, 
fun, and satirical brilliancy and insight, of which he had 
given scarcely any indication before. 

This extraordinary new outburst, in which all the fire 
of contending elements long smouldering in him rose into 
sudden flame, was preceded by an undertaking, briefly 
alluded to in the ' Episodes,' and very unique in its way, 
which may be taken more or less as the conclusion of his 
entirely mundane career. He had never been one of the 
"worldly holies" of m^ own brilliant classification, nor 
was he ever at any time reckoned among those who affect 
superiority to the world, and thank God that they are not 
as other men; but yet the distinction between the two 
portions of his life is very marked, though as paradoxical 
as ever. He was never so cynical in expression, so dazzling 
in satire, as when his whole life was disorganised by the 
new impulse which moved him to live for humanity and 
take love for the race of mankind as his only inspiration ; 
nor so wild in his apparent vagaries as when he first be- 
came conscious of an anchor in the unseen, and a certainty 
of conviction and established standing-ground. 

It was, however, before he had altogether opened to 
this new development that the singular and romantic (if 
such a word can be applied in such a sense) little venture 
of the ' Owl ' projected in laughter and high spirits, and 
carried out as an excellent joke by everybody concerned 
was tossed into the mystified and astonished world. He 
explains its first beginning by a few words in respect to 
the exceptional position he had made for himself by his 
perpetual travels and political adventures. He had friends 
everywhere throughout the civilised (and indeed we may 
add the half-civilised) world, and in all the quarters which 
he had visited and studied, plunging into the troubled 
waters whenever he had a chance, and mastering every 
political combination he could push his way into; and 
from these friends over all the world he was in the habit 
of receiving communications on the exciting subjects which 
had brought them together. " For instance," he says, " a 


conference was at that time sitting in London on the 
Schleswig-Holstein question, consisting of plenipotentiaries 
of all the European Powers who had been parties to the 
Treaty of London, the proceedings at which were kept 
absolutely secret; yet a few days after each meeting, I 
received from abroad an accurate report of everything that 
had transpired at it and this, I hasten to say, through 
no one connected with our own Foreign Office. I felb 
bursting with all sorts of valuable knowledge, with no 
means of imparting it in a manner which suited me." 

It was in these circumstances that " a little dinner " was 
given at a little house in May fair, the residence of ladies 
who were great friends of Oliphant's, and through him 
exceedingly hospitable to various other young men of his 
immediate intimacy, all in the fullest current of society 
and energy of life. I have heard one of them say regret- 
fully that such conversation as that of this little salon 
in which every man did his best to shine, and to win the 
smile of a hostess full of wit and brilliancy, and capable 
herself of a full share in the Ion mots that flew about, and 
the discussions that took place between whiles it has 
seldom been his lot to hear. Amid the brilliant talk on 
this particular occasion it was suggested by some one 
" that a little paper should be started by way of a skit, in 
which the most outrageous canards should be given as 
serious, and serious news should be disguised in a most 
grotesque form." No doubt the merry party began its 
composition on the moment, with all the eagerness of a 
new amusement, and the canards made their first flight 
over the bright dinner-table, with an additional touch of 
colour laid on to each wing as they flitted from convive to 
convive. They had the means not only of dazzling and 
mystifying a dull public, but also of getting at that public, 
which often fails to such amusing projects ; for one of the 
company was Sir Algernon Borthwick, who " kindly under- 
took to print the absurd little sheet." 

The gay conspirators watched, with all the gusto which 
attends a mystification, to see how the jest took. And it 
took like wildfire. The world got note of it while it was 
still damp from the press, and soon in all the circles they 


frequented, amid affairs of state, and the last great scandal 
or discovery of the day, there rose a murmur of inquiries, 
of guesses, and discussions about this little droll solemn 
invader of society, which knew everything, and had the 
secrets of the Foreign Office at its finger-ends, and con- 
founded and tantalised everybody with its extraordinary 
acquaintance with life and events. It was the most ex- 
cellent joke to the young men. When they saw carriages 
thronging the street in which was the little shabby office 
from which the ' Owl ' was issued, they stole aside into 
corners to laugh till they could laugh no more and in 
the evening eyed each other over the shoulders of the 
fashionable mob with twinkling eyes, while all the great 
men and all the fine ladies asked each other, What was 
the ' Owl ' ? Who had communicated to it those startling 
secrets ? Where did it get its information ? When the 
plotters discovered that they were actually making money 
by the jest which they all enjoyed so thoroughly, their 
amusement and satisfaction became more piquant still; 
but in faithful adherence to their original principle, they 
determined to spend their profit gaily, not putting it 
away in any dull banking account, but dedicating it to 
a weekly dinner of the most sumptuous description, and 
other "larks." One of the surviving members of this 
brilliant band tells me of a great entertainment offered by 
the Owls to all the " smart " ladies of their acquaintance, 
when jewelled gifts were hung among the flowery orna- 
ments on the table, and all was harmony and splendour, 
the whole defrayed by the fun and wisdom of the eccentric 
journal, which appeared when it pleased, always affording 
society a new surprise. It is scarcely necessary to say, 
however, that Laurence Oliphant did not follow the career 
of this wild little bandit of the press for any long con- 
tinuance. He was a large contributor to the first numbers, 
and continued until the tenth. Then, or soon after, he 
found the other contributors in the mind to adopt a more 
business-like arrangement for what was in the beginning 
pure sport, and he retired altogether from the undertaking. 
It continued its career, I believe, for some years, appear- 
ing more regularly, although only during the season, and 


falling into more ordinary lines ; for, to be sure, neither 
mystification nor " larks " could continue for ever. 

Perhaps it was the success of this venture, so far out of 
the usual decorous habitudes of the press, which had not 
then fallen into the evil ways of " Society " papers, which 
turned the thoughts of Laurence to another use of the re- 
markable gifts of social satire and criticism, which prob- 
ably he himself became acquainted with in a sort of sur- 
prise as well as his readers. Even in the letters I have 
quoted, though they are always full of humorous touches, 
there are perhaps fewer shafts of satirical description than 
could be extracted from half the confidential letters writ- 
ten from country-houses in any autumnal season. And 
the books he had hitherto published were entirely descrip- 
tive and political, full of information and facts, though 
handled with so' light a hand, and pervaded by such an 
airy wealth of amused and amusing observation, that they 
read, as people say, " like a novel." But it was altogether 
a new beginning when the traveller, the diplomate, the 
serious spectator of distant countries and political in- 
trigues, suddenly perceived that round about him within 
the radius of that mile of streets in which, for a part of 
the year, there lives and feasts and dances and talks, a 
community quite unconscious, in the simplicity of its as- 
sumption, of any arrogance in calling itself the Worlcl 
lay boundless material for satire and fancy. The incon- 
sistency of people calling themselves Christians had long 
been a favourite subject of indignant remark and criticism 
to Laurence, as has been repeatedly noted already per- 
haps too favourite a subject, since to judge a system, and 
particularly a belief, not on its own merits but on those of 
the people who profess it, is scarcely either fair or logical. 
But when or how it first occurred to him, with a flash of 
sudden inspiration, that he possessed, hitherto unnoticed 
in his armoury, a sharp-edged weapon of the kind of Ithu- 
riel's spear, upon which he could pick up and exhibit, im- 
paled upon its shining point, not only to the world but to 
themselves, the masquerades of society, I have been unable 
to discover, unless the ' Owl ' was the instrument of reve- 
lation. In his letters to the editor of ' Blackwood's Maga- 


zine,' in which the first number of ' Piccadilly,' published 
as a serial in that Magazine during the summer of 1865, 
appeared, the doubtful character of the entirely new ven- 
ture whether it would be successful or not, whether it 
might merit success, how the world would receive it are 
discussed with all the uncertainty of a beginner. It had 
occurred to me as quite possible that it was the suggestion 
of the able and far-seeing editor referred to, the late Mr 
John Blackwood, whose literary perceptions (though he 
never touched a pen save to write letters) were singularly 
trustworthy, which directed Oliphant to the unthought- 
of medium of fiction. And I find on inquiry that this was 
indeed partly the case, Mr Blackwood having mentioned 
to him a similar project on the part of J. Gr. Lockhart, the 
son-in-law and biographer of Sir Walter Scott, which prob- 
ably acted as a spark to the ready fire of Laurence's as yet 
undisclosed thoughts. The first intimation of the work 
occurs as follows: 

" LONDON, Jan. 24, 1865. 

" I enclose the MS. according to your wish. I am glad 
you think I might succeed in this kind of work. You will 
see from reading it what my idea was, one entirely ' novel,' 
and which could only be done in a serial that is, to write 
a novel in the form of a contemporaneous autobiography, 
in which I should parody the incidents of the month, make 
my hero make speeches on public questions in the House 
of Commons, stay in country-houses, flirt, shoot a la Bur- 
naby if need be, lecture, argue, &c. But the difficulty is 
the plot : I cannot proportion the importance of the plot 
and the opinions. I am always losing sight of the former, 
being extremely full of the latter. Then they are what 
would be called extravagant in many points, and I don't 
know that you would like to publish them. I feel dis- 
posed to go in against most of the popular ideas of the 
day, and utterly ignore existing prejudices on many seri- 
ous matters ; therefore the chief aim would be to point a 
moral, with a vengeance. I am afraid of doing it too 
seriously, and yet I don't want to bring it into ridicule by 
too much burlesque. . . . The whole thing is an ex peri- 


ment, not only in its chronology, but in its other features. 
In the first place, it is a caricature, and not intended to be 
quite natural or possible. I look upon it as the highest 
form of art to supplant the natural with the imaginative ; 
but of course it runs the risk of failing by reason of its 
extravagance. My difficulty in the present undertaking is 
to keep the grotesque element within bounds : it is like a 
strong spice, the flavour of which easily overpowers. As a 
sort of qualification to this, I have determined on making 
Vanecourt more or less mad. In this character he becomes 
intensely interesting to draw, and the play of his mind is 
a good study. Moreover, it enables his opinions and acts 
to be extravagant and inconsistent always, based, never- 
theless, upoa truth and rectitude, which two principles 
are so extremely dry and distasteful that nobody would 
care about a novel conveying such an old-fashioned moral 
unless it were put in some new-fangled form. Neverthe* 
less, I am quite sure the first parts, at all events, will 
mystify the public, and set up everybody's back. I shall 
consider it only a success if it is the. best abused novel out. 
I see some of the reviewers think it is ODowd." 

That all plans of this kind are much modified in the 
progress of the work is very rapidly perceptible. In no 
operation is the solmtur ambulando so strikingly mani- 
fested. " The best laid schemes o' mice and men " go 
astray nowhere so completely as in the working out of 
fiction. Only a few weeks have elapsed when Laurence 
writes again : " I get so interested in writing it that I feel 
it difficult to keep it waiting for events, so that the con- 
temporaneous element will perhaps in course of time give 
way to the story, but that won't matter." As a matter of 
fact, neither the contemporaneous element (so soon out of 
date and forgotten) nor the story are the points that took 
all readers by storm in ' Piccadilly.' The startling types 
of character the worldly holy and the wholly worldly : 
Lady Broadhem, with her high principles in religion and 
her absolute, almost innocent, obtuseness to the first 
principles of honesty in speculation ; the Stock Exchange 
fashionable, Spiffy Goldtip, perhaps the earliest revelation 


of that strange nondescript and audacious schemer; the 
bold yet abject parvenus ; the mob of fashion, carried 
hither and thither as the secret impulse was given 
were its greatest attractions. Even the muscular colonial 
Bishop, Joseph Caribbee Islands, the curious American 
(a type very rampant in those days, now obsolete), and 
the converted Hindoo, though exceedingly amusing, were 
less heeded, being less tremendous in their exposition of 
reality and sham, than the other terrible yet airy sketches, 
so light, so powerful, almost tragical in satire, so true to 

" The fact is," the author adds, " that the class which 
would appreciate it are not a magazine - reading class. 
If it went down at all, it would be entirely among the 
fashionables, who never read serials or much else, and 
who would read this because it came home to them. It 
would go exactly where the ' Owl ' did, to the young ladies 
and people who never read newspapers. When it got 
well talked of by the beau monde, the ' middles ' would buy 
it not because they .would understand it, but because 
it would be the correct thing." Perhaps he was a little 
contemptuous here, as not unfrequently happens, of the 
" middles," among which highly indefinite and widely 
extended class there are plenty of Lady Broadhems, and 
the worldly holy flourish largely. But it was Society 
which was hit, and in the very centre of the shield. 

"As for hurting me in the House, nothing," he says, 
" can hurt me, provided what I do is from a right motive. 
My only fear about my motive in this instance is that I 
may have a lurking vanity in it ; but the motive I try to 
have is to wake people up, and make them either believe 
or disbelieve, and not go on humbugging with Providence 
any longer. If I am single and earnest in this, I defy all 
efforts to injure me anywhere." " I do feel that the times 
are so bad that they require exposure." These arguments 
in defence of his book are taken from letters to his pub- 
lisher, who, it is curious to find, hesitated to republish as 
a book this extraordinarily brilliant work, to my mind the 
most powerful of all Oliphant's productions. " It is a 
great tax upon your friendship," Laurence says, " to ask 


you to do what you feel so disagreeable. This has weighed 
very much with me ; but as you . say, ' If you are very 
much bent upon it, I am willing,' I confess I am." This 
hesitation, afterwards justified by the fact that ' Piccadilly,' 
though a great literary success, was scarcely so in a com- 
mercial point of view, had its share in keeping back 
the republication of the book, which notwithstanding 
the effect it produced on its appearance in ' Blackwood's 
Magazine,' even when its daring assault upon the world 
was broken by the intervals of publication, and it was still 
possible for the Solomons of the newspapers to " think it 
was O'Dowd" was not produced in a permanent form 
until five years had come and gone, bringing with them 
many strange revolutions, and none more strange than 
those which had taken place in the fortune of the author. 
That extraordinary crisis in the meantime altered every- 
thing for him, who was, at the time 'Piccadilly' was 
first printed, the man we know, newly elected member 
of Parliament, one of the first authorities upon foreign 
politics, the favourite of society, the friend of all that was 
best and highest in England, a courted guest, a brilliant 
writer and still more delightful conversationalist, capable 
almost of any advancement : and who was, at the time of 
its republication, no more than a visitor in the brilliant 
circles which had before been his home, with hands 
hardened by manual toil, a career thrown back into the 
regions of the accidental, and all advancement, as the 
word is generally understood, put away from both life and 
possibility. How such a wonderful change took place has 
now to be told. The reader who has followed his career 
so far will be able to foresee that it was at all times a 
possible thing that this might happen, and that the latent 
spark of the revolution had been lying for years in his 
heart, awaiting the hand that should stir it into life. 




THAT hand was now found. I cannot tell with any pre- 
cision at what time Lady Oliphant and her son * were first 
attracted by the preaching of an obscure American, who 
lectured in Steinway Hall and other such places, to a few 
earnest disciples and a number of curious chance hearers, 
more or less moved by the unusual character of the man 
and his utterances; nor do I know whether it was Lau- 
rence or his mother who was the first to be moved. The 
probabilities would seem to be that it was Lady Oliphant 
who was most likely to betake herself to an out-of-the- 
way place, and a teacher who never touched the sphere 
of fashion, or became a public celebrity, for spiritual in- 
struction. So far as I know, the public interest was never 
roused, as it often is by much less notable appearances, 
and the man and all about him remained always shrouded 
in a certain mystery cleverly shrouded, I should say, if 
I could believe, what is the general opinion, that he was 
from the beginning an impostor, with a scheme concocted 
of profit to himself from the empire he acquired over his 
followers. I am myself very slow to believe in system- 
atic imposture, and think it very unlikely to affect seriously 
any man or woman with ordinary capacities of judgment ; 
and in the present case the persons affected were of more 
than ordinary capacity. 

From the very beginning this mystery is apparent. The 
first mention of Mr Harris occurs in a letter from Italy in 
the year 1860, and it is of the vaguest character. " I hope 
you will go and see Miss Fawcett," Laurence writes to his 
mother. " She may tell you some interesting things about 
Harris. I was sure you could not see him now, but I am 

1 A curious glimpse of what seemed like real light came in the statement 
of a relation, that Harris was a member of the American Legation at Japan 
in 1861, and that he then for the first time made his views known to his 
future disciple. There certainly was a Harris at Japan at this time, but I 
can find no proof that he was the man. 


glad you have got' a promise for the future." Thus not 
only the convictions but the issues of practical life were 
held in the balance for these three -at least ; for the lady 
referred to, afterwards Mrs Cuthbert, became one of the 
closest companions of the Oliphants in their religious life, 
and the sharer of their experiences for good or evil. 

This intimation shows that the American evangelist, if 
I may so describe him apostle, prophet of strange things, 
as he appeared to them was already chary of personal 
encounter, unwilling to vulgarise his doctrine by com- 
munication with chance inquirers, and assuming a much 
higher position than is usual to wandering preachers. He 
was generally, upon his first appearance, but I understand 
erroneously, believed to be a minister of the sect of Sweden- 
borgians calling themselves the "New Jerusalem." The 
only definite ground upon which the historian can go in 
respect to Mr Harris is contained in the shabby little 
volumes of sermons and addresses delivered by him in 
various localities chapels in provincial towns, Marylebone 
Literary and Scientific Institutions, and suchlike which 
attracted sufficient interest to be taken down by a short- 
hand writer and published obscurely for the benefit of 
that portion of the community which, in all the quarters 
of the country, gets note, by some mesmeric token or in- 
tuition, of anything that is new in the shape of religious 
doctrines but never came to the knowledge of the gen- 
eral world. 

And yet there was little that was new in the doctrine. 
With nothing but prejudice in my mind concerning this 
mysterious guide and teacher, I am bound to admit that 
these addresses are of a very remarkable character. A 
little florid in phraseology, as was perhaps necessary for 
the class to which they were addressed, they seem full of 
lofty enthusiasm and the warmest Christian feeling. Very 
little, if anything, is said that is inconsistent with orthodox 
Christianity, slightly tempered by a theory, afterwards 
more fully developed, which replaces the Trinity by a 
Father and Mother God a twofold instead of a threefold 
Unity though even that is so little dwelt upon that 
it might easily be overlooked, even by a critical hearer ; 


but not even the most careless could, I think, be unim- 
pressed by the fervent and living nobility of faith, the 
high spiritual indignation against wrong-doing and against 
all that detracts from the divine essence and spirit of 
Christianity, with which the dingy pages, badly printed 
upon bad paper and in the meanest form, still burn and 
glow. The effect, no doubt, must have been greatly 
heightened when they were spoken by a man possessing 
so much sympathetic power as Mr Harris evidently had, 
to an audience already prepared, as the hearers in whom 
we are most interested certainly were, for the communica- 
tion of this sacred fire. The very points that had most 
occupied the mind of Laurence Oliphant, as the reader 
has already seen the hollowness and unreality of what 
was called religion, the difference between the divine creed 
and precepts, and the everyday existence of those who 
were their exponents and professed believers were the 
object of Harris's crusade. He taught no novelty, but 
only the greatest novelty of all that men should put 
what they believed into practice, not playing with the 
possibilities of a divided allegiance between God and 
mammon, but giving an absolute nay, remorseless 
obedience, at the cost of any or every sacrifice, to the 
principles of a perfect life. I presume confidently that, 
so far as the disciples could be aware, the prophet himself 
at this period was without blame, and maintained his own 
high standard. Perhaps, it may be suggested by profane 
criticism, the mystery in which he wrapped himself would 
be beneficial to the maintenance of this impression upon 
their minds. The great novelty in him was that he re- 
quired no adhesion to any doctrine, and did not demand of 
his converts that they should agree with him upon any- 
thing but the necessity of living a Christ-like life. 

This was precisely what had been the dream and desire 
of Laurence since ever he had begun to think for himself : 
not a creed he had been saturated with creeds. From 
his earliest childhood, when he had been made (as so 
many children in those days were made perhaps even 
some still) to collect texts out of the Bible in proof of 
this and that doctrine till now that he had begun to 


sharpen his shaft against the worldly holy, and to feel 
his heart sicken in the untruthfulness of fashionable 
life, it had been his longing and devout prayer to get 
hold of something that was absolutely genuine and true 
something that promised not wrath and condemnation, 
but judgment and mercy ; and here at last he had found 
it. The very hardness of the terms which the new pro- 
phet required, the severity of the obedience which was 
demanded of his disciples, heightened the effect of the 
revelation. Bidden to be natural, to think the best of 
others, to do the best he could for himself so as not to 
interfere with his advancement, to be content with a 
modified standard, and to allow that in so imperfect a 
world only a very imperfect goodness was possible 
were the soothing counsels that had been given to him, 
when in the intervals of amusement and occupation the 
pendulum swung back, and his thoughts returned to rend 
him. It was not in his nature steadfastly to make this 
compromise with the possible, as most of us do ; but he 
was able, as he has himself so often said, to push the 
great question aside altogether, to occupy himself with 
his work, his pleasures, the excitement of novel encounters 
and experiences, so that there should be no room left, or 
as little as possible, in which to ponder upon the problem 
of humanity. The exhortation to come out of the world 
and be separate, which had rung in his ears from so 
many pulpits, was a farce to him, knowing so well as 
he did what it meant ; that it meant Lady Broadhem's 
conversazione instead of Lady Veriphast's ball, and the 
craft of that worthy Bishop who was the last to leave 
the billiard-room on most nights, but would not even 
have it lighted up when the missionaries were there. 
But when the unknown apostle appeared out of the 
Unseen, and, holding out an austere hand, said, " Come ! 
give up everything : live the life not with judicious 
restraints, so as to keep your place in society and do 
the best for yourself; but absolutely, putting that life 
before everything : " then for the first time Laurence 
heard the voice which for all his previous life he had 
been longing to hear. 


But I am unable to dive so far into the secrets of this 
period of his history as to tell how it worked, or whether 
it required many struggles to convince him that this was 
of far greater importance than the fabric of life which he 
had spent so many years and so much labour in building 
up, which he had brought now to a kind of climax, if not 
exactly as he hoped, yet such as few men of his age 
had attained, and to which almost any advancement he 
desired might be possible. A man whose opinions and 
information were so notable that he was sent for to 
Windsor to explain to the Sovereign an important com- 
plication in foreign affairs, was, of all men in the world, 
the one, we would think, to be least easily tempted to 
retire from a sphere in which such consultations are 
possible. But we have no longer the assistance of those 
confidences which were poured into his mother's bosom at 
other periods of his career ; for she was now with him, 
fully sharing in all his thoughts, perhaps trembling for 
the result, even while she rejoiced over her son's capa- 
bility for such a sacrifice. I am not, for my own part, 
disposed to believe that it was in any sense a life-and- 
death struggle with Laurence to make up his mind to 
the tremendous disruption before him. He would not 
hesitate, as most of us would do, to enter upon a course 
which might entail such supreme self-denial. To step 
back in sight of whither that tide was leading him, would 
not occur to a mind which had been in search at all times 
of the absolute. Perhaps prudence moved him so far as 
to suggest waiting until the result probable to follow upon 
his parliamentary life was clear. But even this supposi- 
tion fails us in the after-light thrown by himself on that 
parliamentary career, when he confides to his future wife 
that his mouth was shut, in its beginning, by command 
of the prophet, so that he who had hoped all his life to 
make a name in the House of Commons became " a parlia- 
mentary failure." This of itself proves how long his inter- 
course with Mr Harris had lasted before the final resolution 
was taken. 

The reader will remember in ' Piccadilly ' the sudden 
appearance of the stranger whose arm is linked in that 


of the hero as he walks along his favourite pavement ex- 
pounding the secrets of the better life to an astonished 
companion, and who finally accompanies him to America, 
making all doctors or other attendance unnecessary, when 
he is left half dead with excitement and the strain of feel- 
ing at the end of the book. " Ah Piccadilly ! hallowed 
recollections may attach to those stones worn by the feet 
of the busy idiots in this vast asylum, for one sane man 
has trodden them, and I listened to the words of wisdom 
as they dropped from the lips of one so obscure that his 
name is still unknown in the land, but I doubted not 
who at that moment was the greatest man in Piccadilly." 
This is the disciple's estimate of his new master. In 
another portion of that work he quotes a passage from 
" the greatest poet of the age, as yet, alas ! unknown to 
fame," being an extract from ' The Great Eepublic : a 
Poem of the Sun,' by Thomas Lake Harris. It was in 
1865 that ' Piccadilly ' was published (in ' Blackwood '), 
and it was not till 1867 that Laurence took the decisive 
step ; so that it is clear it was no hasty step, but one fully 
considered and turned over during a couple, at least, of 
momentous years. " I daresay you will be surprised," he 
writes to Mr Blackwood, "at the half-serious, half-mys- 
terious tone of the last parts ; but after having attacked 
the religious world so sharply, it is necessary to show that 
one does not despise religion of a right kind." 

It was in the early part of 1867, and in the House of 
Commons itself, that my own recollections become of any 
use to me in this record. I had previously made his 
acquaintance, but only in an accidental way, and it was 
for the first time on this occasion that we really became 
known to each other. It was in one of the galleries of 
the House, then, and probably still, appropriated to ladies, 
called at the time Lord Charles Eussell's gallery, and 
placed at the other end of the House from the dark 
oriental bird-cage of the Ladies' Gallery, from which 
women are permitted to peep at the legislators of the 
country. I remember very vividly the perspective of the 
House, brightly lighted, with something of the aspect of 
a vacant theatre during some dull prefatory piece : its 


benches empty save for an obscure figure, watchful of 
an opportunity, here and there; an unimportant voice 
asking a question ; the patient officials in their places 
about the most patient Speaker, waiting, business-like and 
uninterested, going through their evening's work. Ladies, 
who are only on sufferance in that place, come early to 
secure their places, and all the routine of the question- 
hour had to be gone through before the debate began. 
The occasion was an important one. It was the evening 
on which Mr Disraeli was to bring forward in the form of 
resolutions the same Eeform Bill on which he had just 
succeeded in driving Mr Gladstone out of office ; while 
the latter statesman, suddenly turned into Opposition in 
respect to his own measure, had to do his best by all 
practicable parliamentary wiles to destroy its chances of 
success in other hands one of the most curious manifes- 
tations of government by party which has perhaps ever 
been seen in England. 

The conversation in the gallery, at that moment so 
much more interesting than anything going on below, 
began by some questions on my part as to the spiritual- 
ism so-called in which I was aware Laurence had many 
experiences. These questions were lightly put, but they 
were answered with a gravity for which I was quite un- 
prepared. It was not that his new enlightenment had 
taken from him his former faith in the reality of those 
communications with the unseen. The result was quite 
contrary to this ; and I listened with the surprise of a 
sceptic accustomed to think somewhat contemptuously of 
the freaks of table turning and rapping, while he warmly 
condemned these manifestations as not. only vulgarities 
and impertinences, so to speak, but attempts to debase 
and lessen a new revelation of life and truth and dan- 
gerous in every way to those who thus opened communi- 
cations between their own spirits and the most debased 
inhabitants of the unseen world. The gasp of discon- 
certed astonishment with which one listened to this 
new view, in which the vulgar revelations of the mediums 
were recognised as real but denounced as pernicious, in 
utter contradiction not only of the trivial explanation with 


which the great Faraday had attempted to put these phe- 
nomena down to the very partial satisfaction of the 
world, but also of one's own private conviction of their 
folly and unimportance remains in my recollection as 
vividly as when, abashed and silenced, I listened, draw- 
ing back into myself. It was, he said, no place to enter 
into the deeper question ; but he promised on some other 
occasion to make me acquainted with a better way. 

It was perhaps in some haste to escape from an unlucky 
opening, as well as from the confusion of mind consequent 
upon having visibly approached with levity a matter of 
the deepest importance to my companion, that I put some 
question about parliamentary life which drew from him an 
equally unexpected reply. Notwithstanding the revela- 
tions of ' Piccadilly,' which had excited and startled the 
reader, while leaving him still doubtful whether there was 
more than an unconscious self-identification of the author 
with his .strange hero, it was very difficult to realise how 
a man so apparently successful in everything he touched 
should be possessed with so strong a sense of dissatisfac- 
tion, so much impatience and indignation, with his present 
mode of life. He declared it was a life unendurable, which 
he at least could support no longer ; that truth of purpose 
or earnestness was not in it ; that no one, except a few 
powerless individuals, cared for the country or the real 
benefit of the people, but each party for the triumph it 
could win over the other the opportunity of securing an 
advantage, the hope of placing itself first, and pulling 
down its opponents. This sudden burst of indignant dis- 
gust with the realities of life, so fiery and lofty in tone, so 
unexpected from those easy yet eloquent lips, to which 
banter and jest seemed more familiar than denunciation, 
in face of that slumbrous scene, so tedious yet so full of 
expectation, ready in a moment to wake into brilliant con- 
flict, was very remarkable. A natural reluctance to believe 
in such a verdict, or accept a general and sweeping censure 
of the sort, mingled in the mind of the hearer with regret 
and sympathy for the higher aims and disappointed ideal 
of the speaker. It was no doubt the very curious trans- 
action then going on, and which soon filled the empty 



House with eager listeners, and silenced every whisper to 
hear Mr Disraeli's statement, which had brought to a 
climax Oliphant's doubts and difficulties. 

I add the following report of his own account of this 
matter, which had a great influence on his mind, from the 
recollection of another friend. He had come into Parlia- 
ment as a Liberal and follower of Mr Gladstone, then 
pledged to introduce a new and widely reaching Keform 
Bill. Upon this, Mr Gladstone was, as the reader will 
recollect, and as has been already mentioned, defeated by 
Mr Disraeli. The new Government had barely begun its 
functions when Mr Disraeli took up the bill upon which 
he had defeated his adversaries, and brought it in again, a 
little changed in form but identical in principle, thus turn- 
ing the tables completely, and placing the politicians who 
had formed the project in party opposition to it. 

" After Mr Disraeli had intimated his intention of 
reviving Mr Gladstone's Eeform Bill, a great Liberal 
meeting was held at the Eeform Club to consider the 
state of affairs, when Mr Gladstone made a speech, in 
which he said that the principle of the bill was good, as 
it was one for which he was personally responsible, and 
that of course they must support it ; but that its details 
must be greatly amended. A hole was to be picked here, 
and another there ; such a clause must be cut out, and 
such another put in till Oliphant clearly saw that the 
real intention was to wreck the bill, if possible, rather 
than let it count to the opposite party. This utterly 
silenced him, and convinced him, as he said, ' that there 
was no honesty on either side,' in a party sense, at least. 
With the help of a few genuine Liberals who refused to 
join in the party tactics, he formed a cave, called the Tea- 
Koom Cave or Clique, as it was their habit to meet in the 
tea-room. The object of this party was to pass the Keform 
Bill at all hazards. It must be remembered that, while 
he considered Mr Gladstone's conduct as the most inex- 
cusable, he always thought it dishonourable of Mr Disraeli 
to take up his adversary's measure. Only, Laurence could 
not see that this was a reason for opposing a bill that was 
good in itself. He was quite ready to serve God, though 


the devil bade him ; only it gave him a lower opinion of 
the devil." 

After the conversation above recorded, I waited for 
some time for the fulfilment of his promise to let me 
know more fully the terms of his new belief, and eventu- 
ally wrote to him to remind him of it. His reply I have 
unfortunately mislaid ; but it was to the effect that he had 
not forgotten, but that he was under great restrictions as 
to where and when he was permitted to speak, and to 
whom. He had not, it appeared, received any indication 
that I was one of those who had the ear to hear. He sent 
me by the same post one of the volumes of Mr Harris's 
sermons, to which I have referred. I presume that I must 
have replied to this, expressing my admiration for the 
singular fervency and earnestness of the addresses con- 
tained in this little book, which indeed struck me as very 
remarkable. The mystical part of it, in which the writer 
claimed to have seen and received actual communications 
by word of mouth, so to speak, from our Lord Himself, was 
very small a few sentences here and there while the 
appeal made to all to " live the life," and carry the imita- 
tion of Christ into every detail of existence, was the chief 
motive of the whole, and put forth often with great 
eloquence and most unusual animation and fervour. But 
I found so little that was not already known, and which I 
had not understood all my life as the burden of all Gos- 
pel teaching (except those few mystical sentences), that I 
must have asked for further information as to the reve- 
lations which were unexplained. I received the following 
letter in reply: 

" I still prefer, in answer to your note, to speak to you 
through the words of Mr Harris rather than from myself, 
and I therefore send you another of his books. I think 
you will see from it that the important factor in his teach- 
ing is not so much that a spirit-sight exists by which, as 
you say, ' we may penetrate the mists of this world and 
see into the sacred mystery beyond ' though that is most 
undoubtedly the case as that organic changes are taking 
place whereby men are being brought into closer relations 


with the unseen world, and are becoming more open to 
the influences which directly proceed from it ; and that 
thus we are enabled to bring ourselves into closer rapport 
with Him who was once a man, and established a human 
relationship with us for this express purpose or with 
those evil ones who now, as of old, can take possession 
of, and destroy physically and morally, those who do 
not resist them. This change of organic conditions is 
evidenced by manifestations of a character novel to our 
present experiences, but which existed in past ages of the 
world. While, on the one hand, the powers of darkness 
made known their presence by various forms of possession, 
and the physical phenomena resulting from these multi- 
plying, the breath of Christ, descending directly into the 
organisms of men to meet the invading force from below, 
makes known its presence also by physical sensations of 
a blessed and life-giving character, conveying with irre- 
sistible force the consciousness that Christ is actually 
descending with power and great glory a second time to 
dwell with us, and so to quicken their faculties and in- 
spire their lives, that those who give themselves up to 
Him wholly and without reservation of any kind, and are 
ready, by a process of absolute self-extinction and self- 
sacrifice, to die as to their old nature, even while on this 
earth receive a divine influx, which will result in their 
own active regeneration, and enable them to act with 
great power on others. The world professes to believe in 
Christ, and in living Christ's life ; but the popular belief 
in Christ is either a mean concession of opinion or an 
empty superstition : and the embodiment of His life in 
ours practically, and I may almost say dynamically, so 
that we can be conscious of His living in us and living out 
through us, and by physical sensations (consisting chiefly 
in changes in the natural respiration) that we should feel 
His bodily life in ours, would be considered an absurdity, 
though it is promised from one end of revelation to the 
other. It is this physical union with Christ which is the 
deeply solemn subject upon which I felt myself unable to 
converse with you, from a deficiency of this divine life in 
me, which would make my utterances still feeble and un- 


certain, and which has rendered it a matter of considerable 
doubt and difficulty even to write this much ; for every 
effort to impart this truth is resisted so strongly froni 
below. But it so happens that Mr Harris has recently 
returned from America to this country. He is not living 
in London ; but if, after you have read these sermons, you 
would wish to hear more, I will let him know, though the 
life of suffering which he is called upon to lead, and the 
almost entire isolation which the great work in which he 
is engaged imposes upon him, renders it impossible for me 
to promise whether he can see you. But whether this be 
so or not, none who are really seeking fail to find, and 
those who are yearning for the Father's embrace will be 
led into it by the way specially appointed for them." 

The reader may perhaps think that there was a want of 
courage in not following up this opening, though but a 
partial one, and endeavouring to see the man whose per- 
sonal influence was so great and his views so interesting ; 
but I have never pretended to be a conscious student of 
human nature, and the pretence is one highly objectionable 
to me, while at the same time I have so rooted a faith in 
human sincerity and so little in imposture, that though 
never very likely at any time to fall under the spell, I was 
still more incapable of seeing through it. Besides, this 
strange and mysterious kind of transubstantiation, by 
which a man could be made not only spiritually but 
physically one with Christ, affected me with a sort of 
moral vertigo, which I fear has been the chief effect since 
of other and fuller expositions of that and further doc- 
trines. It will be perceived that Harris still continued to 
envelop himself in a remoteness and inaccessibility which 
made it impossible for his fervid disciple to promise that 
he would see a new inquirer. 

The next commuication I had from Laurence was dated 
from Liverpool. He was just about to sail for America, 
having given up everything that had previously tempted 
him his position, his prospects, politics, literature, society, 
every personal possession and hope. A universal cry of 
consternation followed this disappearance, expressed half 


in regrets for the deluded one (who was so little like an 
ordinary victim of delusion), and half in scorn of his pro- 
phet, the wretched fanatic, the vulgar mystic, who had got 
hold of him by what wonderful wiles or for what evil 
purposes who could say ? A man who thus abandons the 
world for religious motives is almost sure, amid the wide 
censure that is inevitable, to encounter also a great deal of 
contempt: yet had he become a monk, either Eoman or 
Anglican, a faint conception of his desire to save his soul 
might have penetrated the univeral mind ; but he did not 
do anything so comprehensible. He went into no convent, 
no place of holy traditions, but far away into the wilds, to 
" live the life," as he himself said, to work with his hands 
for his daily bread, giving up everything he possessed ; in 
no tragic mood, from no shock of failure or disappoint- 
ment, but with the cheerfulness and light-heartedness that 
were characteristic of him, and that sense of the humorous 
which in living or dying never forsook him. He knew 
what everybody would say, the jibes, the witty remarks, 
the keen shafts of censure, the mocking with which his 
exit from the world would be received by those whom he 
left behind. He saw indeed, so to speak, the fun of it in 
other eyes, even when he felt in his own soul the extreme 
seriousness of the step he was taking. He disappeared, 
as if he had gone down for ever in the great sea which he 
had traversed to reach his new home and new life. The 
billows closed over him to all appearance as completely; 
and for three years he was as if he had never been. 

I am enabled, by the kindness of a friend, Mrs Hankin, 
to add here several particulars, drawn from his own lips, 
of the experiences of the extraordinary new life into 
which he thus plunged. It was given many years 4 after, 
when everything was changed ; but his account of the 
manner in which he was led to throw in his fortunes with 
those of Mr Harris's community, contains no reflections 
upon the methods used to draw him there. He was 
indeed, according to this narrative, rather held at arm's- 
length than cajoled into the tremendous step which 
severed him from all his past life. Perhaps the apparent 
reluctance was but a more able way of drawing him on. 


The fact that he was forbidden to attempt to seek the 
parliamentary success on which his heart had been set, 
proves at once that there were no false ideas conveyed to 
him of the character of the yoke he was about to take 
upon his shoulders. This went so far that he was dis- 
couraged from making the final sacrifice as one above his 
strength, and even on landing in America was met by 
a messenger from Mr Harris to warn him that he should 
reflect again before coming to Brocton. "At the same 
time, however, there was forwarded to him such an exact 
moral diagnosis of his then condition, as to determine him 
more than ever to join this extraordinary leader." Thus 
he was held back and attracted irresistibly, at one and the 
same time. 

On his arrival at Brocton, or, as it is formally called, 
Salem-on-Erie, the home of the community, he was plunged 
into the severest and rudest elements of life. Coming 
straight from Mayfair, "he was sent to sleep in a large 
loft containing only empty orange-boxes and one mat- 
tress, and he remembered arranging these articles so as 
to form some semblance of a room. His earliest work 
was clearing out a large cattle-shed or stable. He often, 
he said, recalled in a sort of nightmare the gloomy silent 
labour for days and days, wheeling barrows of dirt and 
rubbish in perfect loneliness, for he was not allowed to 
speak to any one; and even his food was conveyed to 
him by a silent messenger, to whom he might speak no 
word. Often, after this rough work was ended, and he 
came home dead-beat at nine o'clock, he was sent out 
again to draw water for household purposes till eleven 
o'clock, till his fingers were almost frost-bitten." 

Even this picture, however, is scarcely so gloomy as 
that which depicts one feature of the spiritual life of 
this extraordinary place. Many mediums and possessed 
persons were brought to Harris, that he might cast out 
the devils by which they were afflicted. "Sometimes 
' the internals/ as they were called, were very 'active, 
and in that case the whole community had to watch 
to save those who were ' infested,' because it was believed 
that the infernals were more active in sleep. For this 


reason, in many instances persons were kept almost with- 
out sleep for months. One woman, in particular, for 
weeks was allowed only to sleep from nine o'clock till 
twelve, all the rest of the twenty-four hours being spent 
in the hardest work. In casting out or ' holding ' against 
the devils, it was the custom to concentrate the mind 
firmly on the principle of evil, till it seemed almost to 
form itself into a definite form, and then to pray with 
frantic fervour, ' Bind him, Lord ! ' When the crisis was 
past, and the man or woman became open to spiritual 
influence, as betokened by deep sustained breathing, 
members used to sit up all night to ' bind ' the internals : 
it being understood that those who were most open to 
spiritual influence of the highest kind were also most 
subject to the other." 

The wonderful understanding which, by general con- 
sent, the extraordinary man who was at the head of this 
strange community possessed of the characters, moods, 
and conditions of the minds subject to him, was endued 
with special powers of spiritual torture by the system 
which follows. 

" He arranged them in groups of three or four persons 
to assimilate ; but if the magnetism of one was found to 
be injurious to another, Harris was aware of it at once, 
and instantly separated them. Any strong, merely nat- 
ural affection was injurious." In such cases, all ties of 
relationship were broken ruthlessly, and separations made 
between parents and children, husbands and wives, until 
" the affection was no longer selfish, but changed into a 
great spiritual love for the race ; so that, instead of acting 
and reacting on one another, it could be poured out on all 
the world, or at least on those who were in a condition 
to receive this pure spiritual love," to the perfection of 
which the most perfect harmony was necessary, any 
bickering or jealousy immediately dispelling the influx 
and " breaking the sphere." 

And not only did the head of the community keep 
incessant watch over all these occult manifestations, but 
he was at once the director of the domestic life within, 
where the members of the community worked together at 


agriculture and also the head of every operation with- 
out, many of his disciples being sent out into business 
affairs, to conduct commercial operations or other kinds 
of profitable work, in order that they might bring in 
money for the community. "All the schemes connected 
with it, mercantile or agricultural, were in his hands ; and 
he would constantly change the heads of departments if 
he thought their minds were becoming too much en- 
grossed in business, recall and replace them with others 
who often knew nothing of their management, and had to 
learn through mistakes." The life at times was of the 
most primitive description, deprived of every pretence at 
physical comfort, although, until the end of his exist- 
ence, Laurence never departed from the belief that it 
was a life calculated to produce the highest development 
of the spiritual nature. 

" The whole system was based on the belief that we are 
all batteries of some sort of unseen force, which we call 
influence, which is always uncertain in action, and often 
injurious. Under conditions of entire self-devotion, of 
absolute purity of life, and of earnest obedience to the 
voice of God, it has been found that the nature of man 
contains another quality of spiritual life, which connects 
him with a higher order of being, and completes his 
human nature with a divine complement, which has in it 
a power to attract and draw others to a higher spiritual 
plane, and by degrees to bring all who feel it into a divine 
bond of perfect union, which will at the last bring about a 
kingdom of God on earth." 

It was in 1867 that Laurence disappeared from Eng- 
land. In 1870, as suddenly, he came back. The usual 
tales had been current, that he had awakened out of his 
delusion and unveiled his prophet, and returned to his 
senses, as people said stories which I for one hoped were 
not true, feeling what such a disenchantment, after such a 
sacrifice, must have been for such a man ; but nothing of 
this kind was the case. He came back more assured in 
his faith than ever as serious, as .humorous, as enter- 


taining, as delightful a companion, and as much disposed 
to social enjoyment as when he had been one of the most 
popular men in London. And as he was one of those 
whom Society, always eager to be entertained and amused, 
does not forget, he stepped back out of the wilds into his 
place again, and became the courted of many circles, as if 
he had never missed a day. In the course of the summer 
he came one day to see me, and I need not say with what 
strong curiosity and interest I followed all that he told 
me about his new life. He explained, in the first place, 
many of the facts that seemed most hard to understand, 
describing how Mr Harris exacted a two-years' probation 
from his disciples as a test of their sincerity, that he might 
have no fanciful followers coming and going as feeling 
or caprice moved, but a band whose truth and endurance 
had been fully tested, and who knew their own mind, and 
the ground of their allegiance. The test in Laurence 
Oliphant's case had been the severe and extraordinary one 
of giving up all congenial work, all adventure, novelty, 
society, everything he had hitherto lived for, and making 
experience, as above related, of the hard existence of the 
labouring man. He had worked upon the farm, which 
was the headquarters of the community in America, a 
teamster, as he told me with a laugh, and a very bad one, 
oversetting his cart in the mud, and committing all man- 
ner of awkwardnesses. It seemed to my mind to put 
a certain reason, satisfactory in its way, into this ordeal, 
that it was not a mere fantastic preference of the ruder 
life of the fields, but had a real meaning as a proof of 
absolute sincerity and truth. While the probation lasted, 
the neophyte had stuck at nothing. He had "cadged 
strawberries " along the railway line, not as a penitential 
self-humiliation, but because it was a thing that had to be 
done by somebody, and conveyed to his mind no humilia- 
tion at all. He did not enter into any such details as 
those I have quoted, but talked much and freely of the 
general aim and purpose of the community, and of 
individuals who had been drawn into it from the very 
mouth of hell, so to speak, with no bond of doctrine or 
demanded belief, but only with the charge to "live the 


life." For his own part, having fulfilled his probation, his 
prophet and director, in whom his faith was unbounded, 
had bidden him return to his own sphere of work, and 
take up again his accustomed tools. All this seemed 
perfectly natural and reasonable when once the wisdom 
and greatness of Mr Harris was taken for granted ; and on 
that point he had no doubt. Laurence had made over all 
he had to the community I do not know how much it 
was and the community made him an allowance when 
he returned home, to provide for his necessities until he 
got remunerative work. With this little provision, and 
with all his former prospects thrown aside, he came back 
in the full force of his matured powers as ready, as 
witty, as cheerful, as potent a personality as ever to do 
whatever Providence might find for him to do. 

Lady Oliphant had followed her son to Brocton in 1868, 
the year following his own arrival there, and had entered 
upon her own very bitter probation before he had accom- 
plished his. It has been often told that she, a woman 
always delicate and much regarded and studied by her 
husband and her son, was made to lay her ladyhood aside 
and all the habits of her life, and to engage in manual or 
menial labour, the work of the large household, taking her 
share of the washing, cooking, and cleaning of the house. 
I have no doubt that this was the case, any more than I 
have the least doubt that it was the smallest of matters 
to her fervent mind and strong faith, probably attended 
with much less hardship than appears on the surface 
even perhaps with a little real good, in the way of 
strengthened health and a mind freed from many other 
preoccupations, by the healthy influence of personal exer- 
tion. But Mr Harris would have been a less man than 
he evidently was, had he accepted this as a sufficient 
ordeal; and accordingly the mother, whose son had been, 
as the reader knows, all in all to her her companion, her 
correspondent, giving up his diplomatic life to calm her 
fears, opening to her the very depths of his thoughts 
was ordained to give up her Lowry, so far as any special 
possession of him went. They lived, indeed, in the same 
community, and saw each other as any two members of 


the community did; but all the close and confidential 
intercourse of their life was made to end, and when the 
time came for his return to England, it was without a 
word of special leave-taking, she who had broken her 
heart over every parting; and she who had lived upon 
his letters and desired to share every serious thought 
without a line of communication during his absence, to 
let her know anything about him, where he was or how 
he was. It was bitter, the highest refinement of cruelty ; 
yet, if any man had the right to exact such a thing, the 
most severe proof of sincerity. Laurence went away with- 
out even a look of farewell ; and he came back and they 
had not a word together : not a moment of communion, 
nothing to tell her where he had been, what he had been 
doing, the old friends he had seen, the new objects to 
which his life was to be devoted. He told me of this with 
the troubled laugh of emotion, and of how it had been 
almost too much for her, and had threatened to bring 
about an absolute break-down of heart and strength. She 
fell ill, and her son had to be sent for lest she should die. 
But in the end her faith, her obedience, what she thought 
her religious duty, conquered, and she stood out the trial. 
I have been told that she was also commanded to go to a 
lady whose influence upon and relations with Laurence in 
a former part of his life had given her the deepest pain, 
to offer her the new light, and to invite her to become 
a member of the community and abandon all evil ways. 
This, if true, must have been before she left England ; but 
even such a terrible commission would have been little 
beside the tremendous renunciation required of her which 
she made. Thus the prophet put his hand upon the very 
sources of life, and controlled them. He must at least 
have been a man of extraordinary skill and insight, as 
well as of remorseless purpose and determination. 

No sound, so far as I am aware, came out of the un- 
known during these years. I can find no letters of the 
period, unless it be one, which I may give here as an ex- 
position, so far as was ever given, of the principles and 
practice of the community. It was in answer to an anxious 
letter from a very old and dear friend, Mr Louis Liesching, 


of the Ceylon Civil Service, who had been a favourite 
in the Oliphants' household during their tranquil colonial 
life, when Laurence was a boy and the young friend not 
much more. The love which both mother and son bore 
him had justified this affectionate and sorrowing inquirer 
in his anxious claim to know the reason of their with- 
drawal from the world, and in what Lady Oliphant calls 
his " agonised appeal " to them to reconsider their decision. 
Mr Liesching's letter was addressed to her ; but it was 
Laurence, excusing her by the explanation that she was 
by no means so good a correspondent as in former days, 
who answered the letter, giving his friend an account of 
their motives and practices : 

" When I sat down to write I thought it would be pos- 
sible for me to give you some account which would satisfy 
you : the subject is so sacred, so vast, and so mysterious, 
that I am unable to enter upon it within the limits of a 
letter ; but this you must believe, that I have submitted 
neither my reason nor my will to any man, that nothing 
but a guidance as directly from God as that which Saul 
obeyed when he left his old life for a new one, could have 
induced me to abandon a career which, humanly speak- 
ing, was full of the brightest promise, and throw up a 
social position which it had cost me a lifetime to establish. 
That God, after having spoken to the world for thousands 
of years directly through the lips of man and through no 
other channel, should now, at the moment of its greatest 
extremity, utterly abandon it, is not a reasonable supposi- 
tion. In taking the Bible as your only guide, as I do, you 
take what came only through man, and what was decided 
by other men, no better judges than you and I, to be in- 
spired. If you ask what our tenets are, they simply con- 
dense and crystallise into the uses of our daily life the 
teachings of Christ, under direct divine guidance, and we 
enjoy evidences both of an external and internal character 
which the world would call supernatural, encouraging us 
when we are obeying His will, checking us when we are 
going astray, and uniting us daily more nearly to Him 
and to each other. Thus we believe that Christ is again 


appearing in this world, making Himself felt in the very 
organisms of those who open themselves directly to His 
influence, and endowing them with wisdom and with 
power which will enable them to cope successfully with 
all those social, political, and ecclesiastical inversions which 
constitute antichrist. 

"Before, however, we are in a condition to begin the 
work of reform without, we have to establish it within, 
before we are soldiers fit to enter the lists against the 
forces of Pandemonium, embodied and intrenched in the 
institutions of mankind, we have to wrestle not against 
flesh and blood, but against the spiritual powers which 
assail us from within, and we have to undergo a most 
severe and scorching discipline to prepare us for the 
struggle upon which we shall enter when we are sum- 
moned from our retirement, and called upon to live out 
literally in the world the life which Christ inculcated. 
It will be far easier to do this among the heathen than 
among the Levites and Pharisees, hypocrites, of Christen- 
dom. For the devil's stronghold, as you seem to have 
found out, is now, as it was when Christ came, not among 
the publicans and harlots, but among the sects. 

" We have no dogmas : our fundamental principle is 
absolute and entire self-sacrifice; our motive is not the 
salvation of our souls, but the regeneration of humanity ; 
our absorbing study is the practical embodiment of that 
new commandment which those who heard it only par- 
tially understood, " that ye love one another," but which 
is as new, in the sense of never having been up to this 
time either comprehended or practised, as it was then. 
The hatreds and shams of Christendom drove me into, and 
kept me for years in, open infidelity and most reckless dis- 
sipation. When I was your son's age, like him I desired 
to love God and live for divine ends : for God mercifully 
implants in the hearts of most children the germs of pure 
and lofty aspiration ; but constituted as the world is, where 
are they to find development ? Let him join any so- 
called Christian denomination, and he finds the preachers 
of religion envious, bigoted, and the best of them unable, 
if they wished, to live a Christ life. If he goes into the 


world, he finds the infernal principle of competition, which 
strikes at the root of all unselfish love, entirely para- 
mount: he can only succeed by taking better care of 
number one than his neighbours. The most sacred tie 
of life, marriage, is a lottery; for he has no means of 
knowing certainly who is the one for whom God destines 
him, or where to find her. He instinctively yearns for 
solidarity, which is harmony, and he finds competition, 
which is natural hatred. It is terrible what a condition 
society is fallen into, and how sad must be the fate of 
those growing up with generous divinely sent ambitions, 
destined to be crushed almost before they have had time 
to make their presence felt. 

" Dear Louis, knowing what I have gone through and 
where I am, the thought of your son's fate seems to press 
itself upon me with an irresistible force. I would save 
him while there is yet time, and bring him under the 
influence of that calm and peaceful sphere where the 
presence of Christ broods like a dove over the efforts of 
those few devoted souls who are striving at all hazards 
and at all costs to fit themselves to be His absolute and 
exclusive servants, literally loving neither father nor 
mother, nor wife nor children, nor brother nor sister, nor 
even their own lives, as they love their divine Master. 
You need not fear erroneous or unorthodox teaching in 
doctrinals : all we claim is a direct consciousness of 
divine guidance, without the comfort and consolation of 
which, mercifully vouchsafed to us, it would be impossible 
to support the trials and spiritual sufferings we are called 
upon to bear for His sake. Still, I would rather you 
would read and judge for yourself, if you feel so disposed : 
at the same time, do not think that I am pressing this, 
or manifesting any desire to persuade, however difficult 
it may be for me to resist doing so. It is not we but 
the Lord who calls, and therefore act only in obedience 
to your highest impressions, after looking earnestly to 
Him for help and guidance in the matter. I shall say 
no more, fearing that I may, unconsciously to myself, 
allow some wish of my own to creep in. Of this thing 
I am assured, that however much we may differ here, 


however widely sundered by sentiment, by distance, if 
we are all three determined to love and serve Christ, to 
the exclusion of every other object, we shall all three be 
hereafter indissolubly united in His divine harmony by 
the object of our worship, Himself." 

Lady Oliphant added to this letter a little note of 
tender kindness, repeating the assurance that her affection 
was unbroken either by the great distance, the change of 
her ways of thinking, or the silence which had fallen 
between herself and her friends. " One thought," she 
says, " is constantly with me, and that is, how heartily 
our beloved Sir Anthony would have embraced this life, 
how he would have found so many of the perplexities 
which troubled him solved. I am reminded of him daily, 
and I am sure we are both doing just as should have made 
him happy by remaining here. My head," adds this dear 
lady, " is my weak point, and I am thankful that I am 
able to be useful in other ways." The reader will feel the 
pathos of these simple words, remembering in what occu- 
pations a delicate woman, whose antecedents had been of 
so different a kind, was now making herself useful. 

Enclosed with this letter was a copy of one addressed by 
another member of the community to a brother, as little 
enlightened on the subject and as anxious as Mr Liesching, 
which Laurence thought, with the unconscious humility 
of a man absorbed in a great subject, to be a better expo- 
sition than his own. He adds that this is written by a 
Quaker, a man known and reputed for his Christian life 
"not come out of the slough, as I am." It may be 
added that in his account of himself, as given up to reck- 
less dissipation, there is evidently much of that exagger- 
ated penitence which all sudden converts are so apt to fall 
into. Society abounds with slander, and he was not likely 
to escape from its too-usual darts ; but that he was ever 
a vicious man I do not for a moment believe. The vortex 
of London society in the season, although a giddy whirl, 
and requiring a strong brain (or none at all) to maintain 
a proper equilibrium, would scarcely represent " reckless 
dissipation " in the ordinary sense of the word, or in the 


phraseology of a man of the world. The Quaker gentle- 
man's letter is as follows : 

" You ask after our daily life here, how we spend our 
time. There is a short sentence of G. Fox which will not 
inaptly express what we do and propose to do. The words 
are, ' All things useful in creation.' That one word ' use- 
ful' has a particular charm for the people here. They 
are of an intensely practical genius. With us everything 
must have a use and every one his work. We have none 
set apart for the ministry, and we have no salaries to 
spare for any clergyman, minus a cure, who chanced to 
come our way. Our maxim is, that the more spiritual 
we become, the more practical we must become also. We 
must meet the world in its own way and on its own terms, 
and conquer all uses, arts, sciences, industries for the City 
of our God, until the time comes of which it is written 
' that the kings of the earth do bring their glory and 
honour into her.' Our community here we often call ' the 
Use! Every one here must have his or her 'use' or 'uses,' 
according to his or her special genius. I said in my for- 
mer letter that the New Church renewed the body and 
mind as well as the soul. Now, the influx of the Spirit, 
or internal breathing of which we are sensationally and 
organically conscious, natural respiration undergoing a 
new change, begets a new ardour, a divine activity for 
all work ; and whether we are planting potatoes, cooking 
a joint, singing a hymn, or having a picnic in the woods, it 
is our ambition (if I may use the word) to do it the very 
best, as God would do and does His own work. Our pleas- 
ures are joy-births from God ; our labour is worship, and 
our meals more than Passovers. We have no place here 
for those who want to meditate, unless the meditation 
ultimates in useful work. There is no Simon Stylites 
here not even a Madame Guyon need come, unless she 
would work. Our maxims are the reverse of those of the 
world. A Christian manufacturer in Lancashire or New 
England employs any men who can work for him, without 
reference to the regenerate life: our maxim is, that re- 
generation makes a man a better worker. The world says, 


Every man for himself. I am writing to one who labours 
for the good of the poor to the best of his ability. Do all 
your labours touch more than the edge of the festering 
sore that affects and wastes poor perishing humanity? If 
all the poor of Leeds were clothed and fed to-morrow, and 
work found for them, would not the moral malaria that 
fastens on modern society produce another dreary crop ? 
How is it that, as wealth increases in London, the poor 
grow poorer and the criminal classes more fiend-like ? 
Political economists wonder how it is. 

' Reformers fail because they change the letter 

And not the spirit of the world's design ; 
Tyrant and slave create the scourge and fetter ; 

As is the worshipper will be the shrine. 
The ideal fails, though perfect were the plan, 
World-harmony springs through the perfect roan.' 

Men laugh at Euskin, but Buskin is more than half right. 
The Church of Christ so-called comes, stiff with age, and 
lame with creed, and pampered with endowment, but it 
cannot touch the heart of the evil. Christ comes and 
weeps, and says, ' These are my sheep for whom I died.' 
If He appeared again as a man among Christians, and 
attempted to live out His own teaching, they would put 
Him in a lunatic asylum. There is only one thing can 
save the world, and that is ' solidarity with holiness ' 
a oneness of regenerate man. I have in days gone by 
followed the chimera of universal suffrage ; yet a univer- 
sal suffrage of unregenerate men cannot materially alter 
things for the better, if indeed at all. If democracy is 
the cure for the evils of our time, haw is it that the 
House of Eepresentatives here is more corrupt than the 
British House of Commons ? and this with the many 
material advantages which America has over England. 

" The ancient landmarks are fading, the faith of many 
grows cold, sects are dividing and redividing. An intense 
selfishness throughout society is the root of the evils of 
our times : men of genius point out the failings of their 
fellows, but they in turn fail to point out the true remedy. 
Carlyle, Euskin, Emerson, Tennyson, they can portray all 


' the ills that flesh is heir to ' ; but when we examine their 
remedies, it is like viewing the remains of some broken 
glass windows, very beautiful, but not a perfect picture 
can be found in all. We point to Christ, His words, His 
life. ' Ecce Homo,' not the ' Ecce Homo ' of Professor 
Seeley with all his eloquence, but, as Horace Bushnell 
says, 'Life in Christ, and Christ in Life.' 

" You ask how many of us are here. There are between 
thirty and forty of us. Few, you may think, for such a 
work few, indeed, if the work was ours ; but we are noth- 
ing. Christ is all We could have many adherents if we 
relaxed, but we may not unauthorised relax one iota of 
our faith or life. Those who come here must have no 
country, no relations or friends, no pursuits but such as 
are given them of God. They must literally ' forsake all 
and take up the cross.' Any one coming here must be 
willing to be anything or nothing, to be a drudge if the 
Lord's will can be best served in that way : he must ac- 
count a martyr death as a very small sacrifice, and a 
martyr life as the great and glorious thing to strive for. 
The world has come to this, that nothing but a race of 
heroes can redeem it. Christ was the great Hero-Martyr, 
and the servant is not above his Lord. 

" Death and Hell fight, and will fight, against this 
Church, as they have fought against every other. It was 
not a vain boast when Satan said to Christ, ' All the king- 
doms of the world will I give Thee, and the glory of them, 
if Thou wilt worship me.' It was the assertion of a fact, 
and Satan still possesses the kingdoms of this world and 
their glory. And he will not give up his hold without a 
titanic struggle. When this Church rises in the power of 
its Lord to cope mightily with the evils of the world, it 
will meet Satan and his myrmidons at every step, as it 
does already, and a last and direful persecution will be 
raised against it ; and then also it will be known that the 
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be com- 
pared with the glory which shall afterwards be revealed. 
But we cannot unauthorised go to preach in the world. 
Our business at present is to embody heavenly ideas in 
practical things, to redeem the soil from evil, to consoli- 


date and take deep root. Glimmerings of these truths 
have found their way into many sects. The Shakers, for 
instance, have solidarity, but have abolished marriage, 
which is a divine ordinance ; but they are a very pure 
good people. The Perfectionists have also the co-operative 
principle ; but they have admitted the vile principle of 
free-love, which is an abomination in the sight of God. 
The Moravians saw the truth in part, but it could not be 
carried out until the time appointed of God. We have 
simply been invited of the Lord, and have come, ' and the 
Spirit and the Bride say, Come ; and whosoever will, let 
him come.' The world has still to be won, and Christ still 
says, ' The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are 
few.' The soldiers in the Lamb's army will have to bear 
the cross and wear the thorny crown ; but these do not 
conceal the Tree of Life and the crown of glory which 
fadeth not away." 

These sentiments are echoed by Lady Oliphant in 
another letter to Mr Liesching, who had not been satisfied 
with the first, but evidently continued his inquiries, with 
too warm an affection for his friends to be easily contented 
with their voluntary banishment and exile. She has been 
warning him not to put any faith in the reports in the 
American papers, which had already begun the odious sys- 
tem of interviewing : 


" There is no secret, and there is nothing to tell that 
the world would understand, and the deeper things are 
too sacred for newspaper columns. That Breath, which is 
described in the little book entitled ' The Breath of God 
with Man,' l is a physical fact of which all here are con- 
scious, and with many it is sometimes audible. This ad- 
mits of no doubting nor argument it is simply a truth : 
and so of other interior matters which are convincing and 
satisfactory to us, but which can scarcely be received by 
those who are satisfied with the religion they already pos- 
sess. We were not. I beg you not to trouble yourself 

1 I have endeavoured in vain to procure this book one of the publica- 
tions, I believe, of Mr Harris. 


with fears for us, nor for our community being broken up 
through some dreadful sin; and certainly it will not be 
from the cause you dread, ' forbidding to marry.' It just 
proves to me the hopelessness of attempting to explain 
these things when the mind is not prepared to receive 
them. The foundation of the life here is ' Orderly Mar- 
riage,' and the difficulty of bringing Christians to a spirit- 
ual perception of this divine relation is the one hindrance 
even here to the growth of the Lord's life among us. There 
are daily applications from all parts for admission to our 
body; but only three have been added to our number dur- 
ing the last year. There have been some who came in a 
spirit of self-confidence, who were obliged to leave from 
utter failure to understand the process, and submit to it, 
of rooting out and crushing out the self -hood. It is a fiery 
ordeal; but each one who realises what this life is in- 
tended for, feels the need and blessing, being helped in 
their struggles to this end." 

I can give no details, save these, of the habits of the 
community in which Laurence and his mother thus found 
perfect peace and contentment. The few relics of it 
which strayed after him into Asia, if not into Europe, in 
after years, showed little that seemed to indicate an ex- 
altation and superiority so undoubted. Plain and some- 
what homely Americans, and more or less eccentric English 
individuals whose absorption in questions of moral and 
spiritual interest, and indifference to many other matters 
usually held as important, gave them a certain separation 
without any marked elevation, either in life or manners 
were all that the ordinary spectator saw. At a later period 
the life was certainly without any formal religious obser- 
vances, no church-going, no set periods or modes of devo- 
tion. The men in their field-work, the women in their 
household labours, considered themselves as serving God 
more truly than by mere acts of worship, and the inner 
life was that which was considered worthy of incessant 
cultivation and progress. I have never been able in the 
smallest degree to fathom what was meant by the spiritual 
respiration by which they believed even their bodily con- 


ditions to be changed : nor is it easy to enter into the new 
law of marriage, which was already the most distinctive 
feature of their economy. That the relation ought to be 
strictly Platonic, to use a comprehensible phrase a union 
as of brother and sister, though distinguished by an 
absolute oneness of spirit, peculiar to the "sacred tie," 
" the most sacred of ordinances," in which, as they believed, 
the being of the dual Godhead was displayed and imitated 
was, I believe, their strange creed. That it was not 
always consistently carried out was of course inevitable. 
What is much more wonderful is that it was sometimes 
carried out with unflinching resolution, neither the most 
tender affection nor the usual circumstances of confiden- 
tial intimacy between married persons affecting the self- 
imposed rule. It is not a question which can be entered 
into farther ; but it may to some readers afford a clue 
to the somewhat incomprehensible influence exercised 
upon certain minds by the mystic teachings of Laurence 
Oliphant's later works, works which are as chaos to the 
majority of readers, but to some direct revelations from 

I may here quote one amusing episode, to break the 
blank of this mysterious retirement, which was told me 
by Mrs Eosamond Oliphant (I use this form of nomen- 
clature, though it is scarcely English, by way of distin- 
guishing the lady, his second wife, who was the faithful 
nurse and attendant of his closing life) as having been told 
to her by her husband, an amusing outbreak of the 
almost boyish love of fun and hankering after adventure 
which never deserted him. One cannot but feel the 
blank of tedium and monotony which wrapped that once 
brilliant life, when a man so fond of excitement and 
variety, at once a sportsman and a politician, the friend 
of insurgents and filibusters, who had scoured every dis- 
affected country in Christendom, and lightly carried his 
life in his hands through many a dangerous crisis, could 
thus risk it, in pure exuberance of spirits and protest 
against the commonplace, in such an escapade. The story 
begins with a brief sketch of the same details of his life at 
Brocton, which have been already quoted. 


" He slept in a straw bed over a stable, where he also 
ate his solitary meals on a deal box, no other piece of 
furniture being in the room. He rose every morning at 
four in the winter it was bitterly cold cleaned and fed 
the horses, and worked at farm-work till eight o'clock at 
night. He was quite unaccustomed to manual work, and 
it wearied him, body and soul. But it was thus only, as 
he felt, ' that the devil could be thrashed out of him.' 

" One bitter winter's night, he was driving back to the 
stable after his long day's work with a sleigh and a 
pair of vigorous horses. He had been leading a life of 
the most tiresome description for many months, and the 
tedious routine had become almost unbearable to him. 
Suddenly his horses got frightened at something in the 
way, and with a quick impulse Laurence threw away the 
reins, and throwing himself into the bottom of the sleigh, 
yelled so vociferously as to arouse the villagers, who ran 
into the street. The horses, mad with fright, and urged 
on by Laurence kicking and shouting in the bottom of the 
sleigh, soon left the village far behind, and the sleigh spun 
over the frozen snow. The barn where they were kept 
was some distance from the village ; and to his surprise, 
when the horses reached it, they swept through the gate 
without upsetting the sleigh, and drew up before the barn- 
door trembling in every limb. Laurence coolly climbed 
out and led them, into the stable. The excited villagers 
rushed far along the road in search of him, expecting to 
find him in the bottom of a ditch, crushed by the heavy 
sleigh. After a vain search, they returned to the barn for 
a consultation, and found Laurence quietly feeding his 
horses, very much refreshed by a taste of that excitement 
which he had so loved in earlier life." 

Thus the martyr who had given up everything seized a 
moment of boyish hilarity, and enjoyed the mystification 
of the villagers, as if he had never known anything more 
exciting. The wild momentary dash of the frightened 
horses, the muddy farm-labourer kicking and bellowing, 
regardless of life and dignity and gravity, in consideration 
of the moment of wild fun which made the blood again 


course through his veins as of old, make a most character- 
istic picture. 

In all that is said, however, on this subject, and all that 
we can penetrate of the utter prose and dulness of the 
existence of the community to which Laurence had joined 
himself, it must be remembered that we are calculating 
without the potent individuality then and for so long after 
the head of it, and which was really the connecting link 
between the rough American farmer and the accomplished 
Englishman. All my attempts to find materials by which 
the character and personal power of Mr Harris at this 
period could be explained have been ineffectual. He is 
described, both by those who find in him an incarnation 
of the devil, and those to whom he is nothing less than 
angelic an almost wiser and more imperious Gabriel in 
the same abstract terms, there being neither on one side 
nor the other any one capable, it would appear, of making 
him visible as a man. From the remarkable picture made 
by Laurence Oliphant in 'Masollam,' and which is sup- 
posed to be a study more or less from the life, I may 
quote the following description of the personal charac- 
teristics and commanding influence of the prophet 
adding, however, the explanation that it may not be an 
impartial one, having been written after the disenchant- 
ment which brought that personage down from the highest 
heights of moral supremacy to the position of a mercenary 
schemer and false prophet, a diabolical agency for evil, in- 
stead of almost the first and best of created beings : 

"There was a remarkable alternation of vivacity and 
deliberation about the movements of Mr Masollam. His 
voice seemed pitched in two different keys, the effect of 
which was, when he changed them, to make one seem a 
distant echo of the other a species of ventriloquistic 
phenomenon which was calculated to impart a sudden 
and not altogether pleasant shock to the nerves of the 
listeners. When he talked with what I may term his 
' near ' voice, he was generally rapid and vivacious ; when 
he exchanged it for his ' far-off' one, he was solemn and 
impressive. His hair, which had once been raven black, 

'MASOLLAM.' 217 

was now streaked with grey, but it was still thick, and 
fell in a massive wave over his ears, and nearly to his 
shoulders, giving him something of a leonine aspect. His 
brow was overhanging and bushy, and his eyes were like 
revolving lights in two dark caverns, so fitfully did they 
seem to emit flashes, and then lose all expression. Like 
his voice, they too had a near and a far-off expression, 
which could be adjusted to the required focus like a 
telescope, growing smaller and smaller as though in an 
effort to project the sight beyond the limits of natural 
vision. At such times they would be so entirely devoid 
of all appreciation of outward objects, as to produce almost 
the impression of blindness, when suddenly the focus 
would change, the pupil expand, and rays flash from them 
like lightning from a thunder-cloud, giving an unexpect- 
ed and extraordinary brilliancy to a face which seemed 
promptly to respond to the summons. The general cast 
of countenance, the upper part of which, were it not for 
the depth of the eye-sockets, would have been strikingly 
handsome, was decidedly Semitic ; and in repose the gen- 
eral effect was almost statuesque in its calm fixedness. 
The mouth was partially concealed by a heavy moustache 
and long iron-grey beard ; but the transition from repose 
to animation revealed an extraordinary flexibility in those 
muscles which had a moment before appeared so rigid, 
and the whole character of the countenance was altered 
as suddenly as the expression of the eye. It would 
perhaps be prying too much into the secrets of nature, 
or, at all events, into the secrets of Mr Masollam's nature, 
to inquire whether this lightening and darkening of the 
countenance was voluntary or not. In a lesser degree, 
it is a common phenomenon with us all : the effect of one 
class of emotions is, vulgarly speaking, to make a man 
look black, and of another to make him look bright. The 
peculiarity of Mr Masollam was, that he could look so 
much blacker and brighter than most people, and make 
the change of expression with such extraordinary rapidity 
and intensity, that it seemed a sort of facial legerdemain, 
and suggested the suspicion that it might be an acquired 
faculty. There was, moreover, another change which he 


apparently had the power of working on his countenance, 
which affects other people involuntarily, and which gener- 
ally, especially in the case of the fair sex, does so very 
much against their will. . . . Mr Masollam had the 
faculty of looking very much older one hour than he did 
the next. There were moments when a careful study of 
his wrinkles and of his dull faded-looking eyes would lead 
you to put him down at eighty if he was a day ; and there 
were others when his flashing glance, expanding nostril, 
broad smooth brow, and mobile mouth, would make a 
rejuvenating combination, that would for a moment con- 
vince you that you had been at least five-and-twenty years 
out in your first estimate. . . . These rapid contrasts were 
calculated to arrest the attention of the most casual ob- 
server, and to produce a sensation which was not alto- 
gether pleasant when first one made his acquaintance. It 
was not exactly mistrust, for both manners were perfectly 
frank and natural, so much as perplexity. He seemed 
to be two opposite characters rolled into one, and to be 
presenting undesigningly a curious moral and physiologi- 
cal problem for solution, which had a disagreeable sort of 
attractiveness about it, for you almost immediately felt it 
to be insoluble, and yet it would not let you rest. He 
might be the best or the worst of men." 

This curious picture, in which the enlightenment of 
repulsion and indignation had taken the place of the entire 
faith and submission of earlier days, does yet portray a 
man of singular interest, and very unlike the common herd 
anywhere. During the three years of absolute obedience 
at Brocton which I have tried to describe, he was the 
chief and most prominent figure, giving importance and 
harmony to all the rest ; for to Laurence he was at that 
time the one inspired among men, the chief of human 
masters, in intimate alliance with all the powers of heaven. 
When he declared, as on a previous page, that " I have 
submitted neither my reason nor my will to any man," and 
that it was nothing less than " a guidance from God, as 
direct as that which Saul obeyed " his meaning was not 
that he himself had received any miraculous communi- 


cation, but that this which was conveyed to him through 
his leader was the direct inspiration of God. Christ had 
come a second time : this great event had actually occurred, 
and Harris had seen and spoken with and received the 
direct instructions of the Lord. This was the theory which 
held the Brocton community together. " Come see a man 
who has told me all that ever I did," were almost the words 
in which this man was described. " He knew my people 
at home better than I did, though he had never seen them," 
was the testimony borne afterwards by another believer. 

There were, indeed, always differences of language in 
the way in which he was spoken of within themselves and 
to the world. Outside inquirers received the somewhat 
equivocal answer that will and reason were submitted to no 
man, with the reservation that it was not Harris's will that 
was followed, but that of God expressed through him. But 
within the sacred enclosure there was no such pretence, 
and the reader will see hereafter that nothing less than 
absolute obedience was exacted. But he was there, among 
them, their absolute ruler, a divinely inspired man, full of 
the extraordinary dramatic attractiveness of a constantly 
changing aspect, which, even when seen from the darker 
side, is full of interest of the most exciting kind. And no 
doubt he was a companion full of interest, if sometimes 
too overwhelming for human nature's daily food, with his 
wonderful calm assumption of intercourse with the unseen, 
with his gifts of natural eloquence, and with the insight of 
a man evidently born to rule and sway other men. These 
intuitions of his must have been half miraculous in their 
way, as such a combination of sympathy, keen perception, 
and unscrupulous power might be expected to be. It is 
possible to understand how sometimes, when the other 
member of the little farming community, who knew life in 
different aspects from those it bore at Brocton, was assailed 
by sudden heartrending home-sickness doubts perhaps as 
to whether he had sold his birthright for the merest pot- 
tage there would come to him a sudden message, betraying 
absolute penetration of his thoughts, as clear as if they had 
been read by light from heaven. Laurence has told me 
that this had occurred again and again in his experience, 

220 A NEW EKA. 

giving him unlooked-for help when he needed it most. Who 
can tell how it came about? Perhaps a glance as the 
leader, compelled to have his wits always about him, and 
who could only preserve his sway by perpetual watchful- 
ness, passed the disciple, bent under his inappropriate load 
betrayed a wavering, a sickening of heart, a dangerous 
recollection of other things, on the part of that disciple, to 
which the imagination and skill of the guide responded in 
instantaneous enlightenment. At all events, the presence 
of that evidently extraordinary intelligence, that keen and 
constant observation, that strong imperious will and pur- 
pose, goes far to explain how Brocton was made possible to 
Laurence. I do not feel it necessary to believe that Harris 
was a man of evil purpose or bad motives. Laurence, even 
in the sharp revulsion of his after-enlightenment, never 
believed that this was the case in these earlier years. At 
all events, at the beginning the companionship of this man 
was not vulgar magic, but full of human charm and attrac- 
tiveness, as well as of assumed authority and guidance 
from heaven. 



IT was in the year 1870, as has been said, that Laurence 
Oliphant returned home after his disappearance from the 
world. Very few letters had come from him during the 
first period of his seclusion. His mother was no longer 
at home to be the confidant of all his adventures, and for 
two years at least the oracle was altogether silent. In 
1869 I find one or two letters to his publisher, Mr Black- 
wood, chiefly about the republication of ' Piccadilly,' which 
had been postponed from time to time, on account among 
other things of the delays of Mr Pdchard Doyle, who had 
consented to illustrate the book. But it can scarcely be 
supposed that a man labouring on his farm, in the manner 
described in the preceding chapter, could have much time 
to enter into a literary venture ; though nothing can be 


more odd and eccentric than the thought that the most 
brilliant of contemporary satires, a fiery arrow discharged 
into the very heart of the most highly organised and 
conventional society, should have come from the hard 
hand of a farm-labourer at " Brocton, Chataugua County," 
living the most elementary and primitive life, not much 
advanced above the level of the horses of his team. 

It is not less curious, however, that this religious recluse 
and martyr, who had given up all the promises of worldly 
reputation and pleasantness for the sake of what he con- 
sidered the cause of God and the truth, should, as soon as 
he had leisure to cast his eyes around him, and perceive 
the novel circumstances of his new location, have burst 
into the still more startling satire and pungent criticism 
of the strange story called " Dollie and the Two Smiths," 
which was published in ' Black wood's Magazine ' in the 
early part of the year 1870, just before his return to Eng- 
land. How he, who was himself living under the rigour 
of spiritual indications, in obedience to suggestions from 
the unseen, could treat Mrs Dollie's amazing changes of 
sentiment with such daring laughter, is inconceivable to 
the looker-on. Fun had never been so wild in him, nor 
satire more bold, nor could anything be supposed more 
completely unlike the conventional idea of a man who 
had given up everything for the sake of religion, than the 
laughable yet subtle sketch of an inconceivable condition 
of affairs, too ludicrous to be immoral, which he launched 
at his new neighbours with the same laugh which had 
bewildered the old. "Dollie and the Two Smiths" is 
however still more trenchant than ' Piccadilly,' especially 
as it is pure narrative, and without the faintest intimation 
from beginning to end that the narrator found anything 
in it to disapprove. 

About the time that this wonderful sketch was being 
made, he recommenced the more familiar record of life and 
thought to his friend Mr Blackwood in Edinburgh : 

" My mother has become wedded to this country, and 
has no thought at present of leaving it. There is much 
to write about here ; but it is scarcely possible for me to 

222 A NEW ERA. 

write it, and quite impossible for you to print what I 
should probably write. The country is undergoing a com- 
plete change ; but the ultimate effect of the forces at work 
cannot be judged of by the appearances on the political 
horizon. The black cloud may in reality be concealing a 
very bright sunrise, and the political features from which 
you especially, and I in a less degree, turn with disgust, 
may be necessary to the growth of something which will 
not turn out such an abortion as it looks now. That this 
unseemly infant has only just got through its teething, 
and has got measles, whooping-cough, and a host of other 
troubles in the shape of civil wars to come through, I have 
no doubt; but I believe the highest hopes of humanity 
are "bound up with its future and with that of Japan, 
widely dissimilar though they be. . . . The revolution 
here is not political but moral. That is what I should 
have liked to write about, if I dared; but I can only 
write now what I feel and know to be true, and that is so 
dreadfully different from what the world believes." 

The inclination thus stated to discuss the new regime in 
America, with its many strange developments, sounds very 
serious in the letter, and seems to imply the most grave 
discussion of existing evils and hopes. It is whimsical in 
the extreme to find that what it ends in is the wild fun 
and satire of the story of Dollie. The hand that laid down 
' Piccadilly ' before the revolution in his own individual 
life, picked up the same keen weapon as soon as he was 
released, with no diminution of its keen force and daring 
trenchant stroke, though indeed the moral purpose is less 
visible, and the glittering edge is tempered by no intent of 
healing. Thus it is clear that, whatever the first chapter 
of the life at Brocton had done for Laurence, by all its 
toils and humiliations, it had at least left intact the gleam 
of fun and humorous perception that was in his unregen- 
erate eyes. 

His first appearance in the home of all his training and 
associations, after such a break in his life, was naturally 
more trying and notable than any after revisitation. When 
I saw him in Windsor during the summer, as has been 


related, there was in him a sort of restlessness, as of elation 
and pleasurable excitement, which was very striking. It 
had been said by many that he was coming home disen- 
chanted, disappointed, returning in the blight of hope and 
feeling, which is the natural fate of the enthusiast who 
has sold his birthright for something even less than the 
mess of pottage; but no one who encountered him was 
long left under this delusion. He was in high spirits, 
unfeiguedly glad to be released from his drudgery and to 
return to his .native air of intellectual novelty and variety, 
after long fasting from all that was exciting or agreeable. 
But this natural sentiment did not in the least degree in- 
terfere with his faith, which was as profound and unshaken 
as ever. The little community, with all its straitness, was 
still to him the ideal of society; its undistinguished mem- 
bers his chosen brethren. No one of them, so far as I am 
aware, except Mr Han-is, has ever been heard of beyond 
their own natural and limited circle. Their interests were 
few, their occupations of the most engrossing and humble 
description ; but no doubt had entered the mind of Lau- 
rence as to their being the enlightened of the earth. The 
convert came back with his head high, and his eyes full of 
keen wit and spirit as of old. He told the tale of his own 
incompetence as a farm-labourer with the most genial 
amusement, and made no secret of his satisfaction in being 
permitted once more to work with the tools he had been 
familiar with all his life, his probation having been fully 
accomplished in the community, and his earnestness and 
fidelity having stood all tests ; but his heart was with his 
brethren still. 

He gave me, I remember, details of the manner in which 
he was still occupied for the service of the community 
in his spare hours, which were so extraordinary in their 
humility and devotion, that I fear to add an element 
almost of ridicule to the story by describing them. But 
notwithstanding the tremendous gap between the past and 
the present, his own position was virtually unchanged by 
his absence. It happened to him, as it happens to few 
men self-exiled from the busy world, to take up his friend- 
ships where he had left them, and to find everybody as 

224 A NEW ERA. 

glad to see him as ever. Nobody had forgotten him. He 
was too piquant in his personality, and amused society too 
much, to fall aside out of its favour. Everywhere he was 
received with open arms. To be sure, the old paths of 
advancement were closed, and to a man who might be 
summoned to America at any time at a moment's notice, 
diplomatic service or the House of Commons would have 
been impossible, even could he have returned to them; 
but in every other way he was received and feted as of 
yore. Indeed, if anything, the curiosity about him, his 
strange disappearance, and the hundred rumours that were 
afloat on the subject, increased the delight in his company 
which every intelligent person who came in his way could 
not help feeling. Everything that was wonderful was said 
about his sect, and the inquiries made of him were some- 
times of the most ludicrous character. To these he knew 
very well how to respond with a laugh or jest or winged 
word, which went through the foolish questioner like an 
arrow. To myself he appeared to have a sort of holiday 
happiness about him, a delight in talking over the trials 
and difficulties he had passed through, such as a man has 
who has come triumphantly through a long voyage. "Yes," 
he said, " I cadged the strawberries along the line, it is 
quite true : partly because there was nobody else to do it, 
and we wanted to sell them ; and partly because I would 
not have it said that there was anything I objected to do." 
These arguments were unanswerable in their good sense, 
and made the reasonable hearer feel how foolish were any 
objections to such a simple duty. 

On more recondite matters he was quite ready to talk 
also but here with much less understanding on my part ; 
nor did he insist on anything except his old formula of 
' Piccadilly,' " Live the life." He told me of some one, an 
English gentleman, much fallen and degraded, who had 
been picked up in the very worst state of wretchedness 
and despair, and redeemed by the charge given him of a 
sort of humble inn on the outskirts of Brocton estate, 
where there were rough and " rowdy " customers only, to 
be subdued and kept in order by some one acquainted 
with their ways, and whom the absence of all formulas, 


even of church-going, and the simple practical rule of life, 
had restored to virtue and honour. This was to show 
how wide were the principles of the community, and how 
simple its aim. As for the transcendental phenomenon 
of internal or spiritual respiration, which was at that time 
the only thing occult and hard to understand, except the 
boundless influence of Mr Harris, little was said. And I 
must add that Harris was constantly spoken of as in- 
fluencing, not as commanding. What he suggested ap- 
peared, sometimes instantly, sometimes only after much 
resistance of mind, but always in the end convincingly, 
to be the absolute best that could be done, and was 
obeyed accordingly. Of course there was a certain soph- 
istry in this, as in the corresponding statement that 
there was no giving up of individual property, but that 
each member of the community continued to hold his 
own, contrary to the popular opinion that things were 
in common among them. But the fact was not concealed 
that many of the members were poor, and had to be 
maintained at the general cost, though all gave their 
labour, as much as it was worth, to the common-weal ; 
and Laurence informed me without any hesitation that 
he himself had a small, a very small, allowance from the 
community to pay his expenses in Europe until he should 
have got something to do, which was to be not only for 
his own advantage but theirs. The allowance was so 
small that he had to travel in third-class carriages, and 
content himself with the most modest and obscure lodging, 
all which privations were objects of amused satisfaction to 
him in the happy light-heartedness of his nature. A more 
cheerful image could not be than that which he presented 
at this moment, with something of a schoolboy's pleasure 
and delightful elation in the fulness of recovered life. 

The only thing that troubled him was that the ' Times ' 
and other influential papers did not review ' Piccadilly ' 
as he thought they ought to have done ; but nevertheless 
the book had a great success, and was read and com- 
mented upon everywhere. The world had been allowed 
time to forget the first impression made by its serial 
publication, and it came with a fresh shock of sensation 


226 A NEW ERA. 

upon those most qualified to understand its brilliant 
assault upon society. I do not think that the American 
sketch of Dollie was ever appreciated as it seems to me to 
deserve, probably because the society of rural America 
at which the critic, disguised in the strange garments of a 
farm-labourer, looked out with humorous eyes from the 
Brocton settlement was unknown to the English reader : 
or perhaps the subject was too startling for the general. 
With the exception of this one extraordinary sketch, 
scarcely anything came from the pen which had been 
so busy during all the earlier portion of his life, and was 
again so industrious in its later part, for nearly ten years. 
For some portion of that time, however, he was acting 
as ' Times ' correspondent, producing daily, and in large 
quantities, that kind of literature which is fortunately 
well recompensed at the moment, but loses all the advan- 
tages of a hereafter, and never ranks as literature at all. 

This new beginning was made at the breaking out of 
the Franco-German war, in the latter half of the year 
1870. Laurence had already written for the ' Times ' on 
many occasions, but never before permanently and offici- 
ally as one of its representatives. He had still hoped, it 
would appear, for some appointment under Government 
even at so late a date ; but one way or another, was fully 
determined to have his part in the great tumult which 
was sweeping over the Continent. The following account 
of his start upon the dangerous and exciting mission 
confided to him is from a letter addressed to the Duchess 
of Somerset, at this period his frequent and most enter- 
taining correspondent. 

" TOURS, Sept. 25 [1870]. 

" I left London in such a hurry that I had not time 
to write you the line I intended, to tell you why I am 
here. I went down and stayed a few days with Lord 
Granville at Walmer, but nothing came of it beyond 
extreme civility and kindness, and vague promises that 
took no definite form; so when I met Delane the day 
after my return, and found he wanted a correspondent 
to go to Lyons to write letters for the ' Times,' and was 


prepared to be generous, I accepted his terms : and here I 
am on my way to the south of France generally, which 
would be very agreeable if there were not so much chance 
of being arrested as a spy. I have just seen Lord Lyons, 
who sees nothing left for France now but a siege of Paris 
and a fight to the bitter end, whatever that may be. I have 
just come off a thirty-six hours' journey along railways 
encumbered with wounded men, and soldiers hurrying to 
some army which does not yet exist. The whole country 
seems to be rising : nothing to be seen but soldiers." 

His adventures during the actual campaign of 1870 and 
1871 have been so admirably written by himself, that it 
would be useless to attempt any other description of 
them. The wanderings from field to field, sometimes in 
advance of the army, sometimes (but seldom) behind, 
the terrible scenes of which he was sometimes a wit- 
ness, the wonderful little vignettes of private life in 
which he had often some merciful act to perform, always 
a kindly part to play, are all told with his usual vivid 
force and lightness of touch. His plan was to drive in 
the rough country carriage with which he had provided 
himself at his outset, as near to the point of attack as 
possible, and then getting out, either to skirmish about on 
his own account, not fighting, but inspecting everything 
that was going on, or if possible to reach some coign of 
vantage, such as the steeple of a village church, from 
which he could see everything. Sometimes he was car- 
ried along in the midst of a charge, sometimes he arrived 
before the troops, to find himself sole master of an evacu- 
ated town or deserted village, set on fire, not by enemies, 
but by its flying inhabitants. On one such occasion he 
had stepped forward to receive with a somewhat rash jest 
the commandant of the regiment which had arrived just 
too late, and was offered quarters with the staff; " but," 
he adds, " 1 had my letter to write and post [he had been 
on foot all day, and had twice barely escaped with his life 
in the many chances of active warfare], and this involved 
a five-mile drive by moonlight to the rear across the most 
ghastly field which can well be imagined." 

228 A NEW ERA. 

" I had some trouble in finding my carriage. I had left 
it at a well-defined position on the battle-field of the day 
before ; but to reach it, I had to walk for more than a 
mile over a plain where the carcases of men and horses 
were not merely thickly strewn, but frozen into all sorts 
of fantastic attitudes. The thermometer had been 16 be- 
low the freezing-point the previous night, and men only 
slightly wounded, who had not been able to crawl to their 
comrades, had been frozen to death. One man was stiff 
in a sitting position, with both his arms lifted straight 
above his head, as though his last moments had been 
spent in an invocation, and it gave one a shudder in the 
clear moonlight to approach him. Others were cramped 
up in a death-agony, and so frozen. In places many 
together, French and German, were mingled not because 
they had been at close quarters, but because the same 
ground had first been occupied by one and then by the 
other, perhaps at an interval of half a day. I think I was 
more comfortable with bullets ringing in my ears than 
walking amid the distorted shadows of these dead and 
stiffened men ; and it was quite a relief to see a haystack 
on fire and a regiment warming themselves at it, and 
my prudent coachman within comfortable distance of the 
ruddy blaze. Then comes the hard part of the corre- 
spondent's life I had still to dine. I had lived since 
the morning's coffee on a loaf of bread, which I had been 
picking at all day. Then to write my letter a good two 
hours' task ; then to see that it was safely posted either 
that night or the next morning early, so as to give me 
time to get to the field for the third day's battle. And all 
this after having been on a strain of exertion and excite- 
ment since daylight; and then the gentleman at ease in 
London reads it all in his arm-chair after breakfast for a 
penny, or at most twopence-halfpenny." 

The next night after these adventures he found himself 
in a village in which every possible lodging seemed to be 
taken up, and wandered about in the dark through the 
heavily falling snow, in bitter cold, hunger, and desola- 
tion, when he found a hovel in a lane, upon the door of 


which no name was chalked, and which had therefore 
apparently escaped appropriation. After much knocking, 
he was at last faintly answered from within by a woman's 
voice timidly inquiring what he wanted. " I said I would 
explain as soon as I was let in, and pushing the door open, 
I found myself in a room lighted only by the dying embers 
of a fire. Striking a lucifer match, I became aware of 
the presence of two young women, aged eighteen or twenty, 
shivering with terror, one of them weeping bitterly. These 
I attempted to reassure by the most dulcet tones and 
pacific questions. I explained my forlorn condition, ex- 
pressed my willingness to sleep under a hedge rather than 
cause them one moment's uneasiness, painted in strong 
language the dangers which surrounded them in the 
absence of any protector, declared my willingness nay, 
my anxiety to constitute myself their protector, expa- 
tiated on my harmless and generally innocent disposition 
where the fair sex were concerned, and the length to which 
my chivalry was capable of carrying me where they were 
in peril ; and finally succeeded in extorting an invitation 
to become their guest. I declined to force myself upon 
them, and would only stay if asked. They said they had 
no male protector. One of them was married, but her 
husband had left on the approach of the Germans, and 
the other was her sister ; and they threw themselves upon 
my mercy. I asked them if they had any provisions in 
the house ; but the supply was so small that, after chalk- 
ing my designation on the door to prevent the room being 
occupied in my absence, I started off to bring my traps 
from the carriage and any provender I could lay hands 
upon. I came in for a slice of beef while the distribution 
was being made to the soldiers, and was soon established 
by the side of a roaring fire broiling a steak, and most 
eagerly waited upon by my two charming hostesses. I 
soon after won their complete confidence by turning off 
a rather noisy band of soldiers who came looking for 
quarters, and listened sympathetically to the long tale of 
sorrows which they poured into my ear. They were very 
poor, and there was literally but one room in the house. 
This contained two beds, one of which was usually occupied 

230 A NEW ERA. 

by the young married couple, while her sister slept in the 
other. They were hung with heavy blue curtains, which 
entirely enveloped them. The sheets were coarse but 
clean, and I had a good supply of my own rugs. When 
the cravings of my appetite had been appeased, I sug- 
gested in the most delicate manner that I should go to 
bed first, pull the curtains together, and put my head 
under the bedclothes, while they went to rest in the other 
bed. This arrangement suited them perfectly ; and I 
shortly after received a fresh mark of their confidence by 
hearing one of them snore. The weather was so boisterous 
on the following day that it was impossible to continue 
the march : so I brought enough provisions to the hut for 
all three, and paid for my accommodation so liberally 
when I left the day after as I felt it would be an act 
of charity which would be highly applauded by the pro- 
prietors of the journal' I served, and out of whose pockets 
it came that I have every reason to hope that the two 
poor girls look back to the days when their village was 
occupied by the Germans as among the pleasantest and 
most profitable of their lives." 

Such were the daily vicissitudes of his life throughout 
the campaign, and it would be hard to find more interest- 
ing reading than in the pages which record the ' Adven- 
tures of a War Correspondent.' 

The following letter to the Duchess of Somerset is con- 
cerned with the state of mind and temper in the two 
armies rather than with personal adventure, and is deeply 
interesting as the opinion of a candid observer of both 
parties. In some of his prognostications Laurence was 
wrong ; but that is a very usual occurrence when the keen- 
est student of human nature ventures upon prophecy. 

" ALENQON, 18th January [1871]. 

" I have often been meaning to write to you, but when 
I have finished my letter to the ' Times/ and the business 
correspondence which I cannot avoid, my head generally 
gives me notice that I have used it enough. Since leaving 
Lyons 1 have been writing from the German armies, and 


ever since the Grand -Duke of Mecklenburg has had a 
separate command, my letters have been dated from his 
headquarters. I have thus had an opportunity of seeing 
twelve general or partial engagements, and of forming 
some idea of the prospects of the two armies. From the 
beginning the French never seemed to have a chance, and 
the conviction is at last forcing itself upon the sensible 
part of the nation that they have no alternative but to 
make peace. The extreme democratic party and the south 
of France, which has not suffered, are the exceptions ; and 
when Paris falls, the question of peace or war will divide 
the country and sow the seeds of discussion, which will, 
I think, produce a civil war, and may perhaps split the 
country geographically, the republican or war party being 
in the south, the monarchical or peace party in the north. 
Meantime, contact with the German armies has not the 
effect of enlisting one's sympathies in their favour. The 
official or Junker class detests England with a mortal 
hatred, because they instinctively feel that the institu- 
tions of England strike at the root of their various class 
prejudices and bureaucratic system. The Liberal party in 
Germany is only waiting for the war to be over to assert 
themselves, and I think a German revolution will follow 
very closely upon the heels of the French one, when class 
interests may produce combinations between the two 
countries in spite of their national antipathies. I have 
found it very difficult to get on with the Grand-Duke's 
staff: they are so supercilious and arrogant, and cannot 
understand how a newspaper correspondent can be a 

"The feeling against England among the Germans is 
increasing every day, and it is amusing to hear them dis- 
cuss plans for the invasion of England. They have worked 
the whole thing out: Blumenthal told me he had con- 
sidered it from every point of view, and regarded it as 
quite feasible. On the other hand, the French are a danger 
to no one any longer. They were a mere bubble at best ; 
and it seems to me they will never again be powerful 
enough to cause alarm to any one. No one was a stronger 
Francomaniac than I was, or feared less the German 

232 A NEW EEA. 

powers than I did, at the beginning of this war; but I 
confess I have begun to change. I remember the Duke 
being of the same opinion, and there is no doubt that 
France with her large fleet has always been our natural 
enemy, nor had I any idea of the bitterness which existed 
against us in Germany. True, the natural enemy of Ger- 
many is Eussia, and all sensible Germans look upon a war 
there as inevitable. This is the danger which Bismarck 
has foreseen, and devoted all his policy to avoid. 

" We have had no difficulty in routing Chauzy's army 
again, as we did near Orleans. He is supposed to be con- 
centrating near Laval, whither we shall probably follow 
him. Nothing can be more cowardly or miserable than 
the conduct of the French troops. The Germans pillage 
terribly ; but I am obliged to keep silence on many points, 
or I should be sent away from the army. I have a great 
difficulty, as it is, to manage my correspondence so as to 
tell the truth without giving offence." 

This special work was of course ended when the war 
came to a conclusion. There is a story which was widely 
circulated at the time, but for which I should not have 
been disposed to vouch, having merely heard it as every- 
body did, but for subsequent confirmation, to the effect 
that Mr Harris, before permitting his disciple to under- 
take the work of war correspondent, gave him a sign 
which was to show him that his term of service was over, 
and to serve as a recall to America. The sign was to be 
the entrance of a bullet through the window of the room 
in which he was rather an ineffectual token, one would 
think, to a man about whose head the bullets had been 
whistling night and day. The sign was accomplished, 
according to this legend, during the struggle of the 
Commune, when the prophesied bullet did actually come 
through a window at which he was eagerly watching the 
commotion in the street below, a very likely incident. 
This story, which in itself sounds somewhat fabulous, has 
been confirmed by notes (already quoted) taken by a 
friend from Laurence's lips, at a much later period, where, 
among other interferences of Harris with his life and 


cherished wishes, he describes repeated recalls " in the 
midst of undertakings on which I was engaged for the 
community, just when I was getting things into working 
order. I was thus recalled from Paris at a moment's 
notice, when my departure was most inconvenient, and I 
was much tempted to disobey orders ; but (it was at the 
time of the Commune) I had turned into a house to avoid 
a charge of soldiery, and a bullet grazed my hair. I took 
it for a sign that my protection was removed, and got 
away as soon as I could manage to do so." 

This compulsory visit to America was so short that he 
was again in Paris, and had assumed the permanent post 
of ' Times ' correspondent there, in the autumn or early 
winter of 1871. I think, but am not sure, that his mother 
had returned home about the time of this hasty visit, 
having gone through the terrible probation of separation 
from her beloved child with such fortitude as was possible, 
and being now judged capable of bearing the trial of being 
happy in his society as of old. At all events, whether she 
had returned before or came back with him, she was at 
least settled in Paris in December with her son, when I 
passed through on my way from the snows and pines 
of the High Burgundy, where I had been paying a visit. 
Paris was but a ghost of her bright and careless self in 
these days. The shining city, clean as a bride in her gen- 
eral aspect as one had always seen her, was almost im- 
passable, like grimy London in a thaw, every 'corner heaped 
with slush and mud ; and here and there, as the slow cab 
that conveyed the traveller from the distant Gare de Lyon 
to the Mirabeau Hotel crept along at a footpace, gaunt 
ruins rising into the wintry morning light, the Tuileries, 
the Hotel de Ville, the Ministry of War, and many others, 
terrible tokens of what had been. Life and traffic had 
already begun to recover, since human nature, not only in 
Paris, loathes the monotony of mourning as much as any 
other incubus : but the sight of these roofless and window- 
less piles of building, lifting their charred walls in the very 
centre of the movement of the great city, was strangely 
overwhelming and impressive. Lady Oliphant and her 
son drove me about to see these ruins and the general 

234 A NEW ERA. 

aspect of the place ; and great as was my interest in them- 
selves, the subjects of the time, the apparent ruin of 
France, the chaos of government, the sense that no one 
knew what another day might bring forth, occupied our 
minds to the exclusion of all personal matters. Laurence, 
however, had changed in aspect from the time of his first 
reappearance in the world. He was sobered out of his first 
elation ; and in the return to his natural habits of life, and 
recovery of a definite sphere of action which, if it was 
not all that he might once have hoped, was yet worthy of 
himself and his training had recovered his natural tone, 
that of a man essentially of Society, and of the grand jour 
and plein air, to use words in which the French have the 
advantage of us, of a large and full existence. He was 
no longer displaced from all the common grooves of life, as 
when I had last seen him, but had found an outlet for the 
activities of his mind and being, and was strenuously and 
wholesomely occupied in a manner of work quite suitable 
to him. That he had again a home had no doubt also 
something to do with this increased composure and tran- 
quillity, notwithstanding that, at the special moment at 
which I found them, Lady Oliphant had temporarily left 
him to perform the duties of a mother to a family of 
children, to whom she was in no way specially linked save 
by that bounden duty of " living the life," which made her 
hold herself at the service of all who needed help. I 
remember that the things which struck me most at this 
strange crisis of life, in the larger and lesser circle, were 
the forlorn squalor and dirt of that once carefully brushed 
and polished Paris in her humiliation and the little 
motherless boy thrusting out his little boot to be buttoned 
to the white-haired lady, in whose instant readiness to 
respond to his call, though he was none of hers, the child 
had perfect trust. 

The period of Laurence Oliphant's life spent in Paris 
not only led to his marriage, and was thus for ever memor- 
able in his existence, but was, I think, in itself a cheerful 
episode, in which his circumstances and work were agree- 
able to him, and he had the comfort of feeling himself in 
a congenial sphere, more or less living among his own 


species, after many dangers and discomforts past. But it 
is indeed vain to speak of a man as living among his own 
species, however much this may externally have been 
the case, in face of the fact that in this very sphere, so 
strangely different from anything they could have known, 
he was living continually, not only under the influence, 
but at the command, of the homely and insignificant com- 
munity at Brocton, and their extraordinary and mysterious 
head. Externally in most respects his position was a very 
desirable one. He was in the full tide of that lively in- 
tellectual life with which nothing long interferes in the 
French capital, and at the fountainhead of all that hap- 
pened, seeing everything, to a certain extent influencing 
the course of affairs, deeply interested in the great prob- 
lems that were beginning to work themselves out, and 
with a daily share in that very process, his good opinion 
courted on all sides the very Head of the State, as will 
be afterwards seen, seeking his support, and opening his 
mind to so influential an agent as the correspondent of 
the ' Times ' who was not a mere ' Times' correspondent, 
but a man already universally known and distinguished 
in many ways. All these advantages were his, and his 
wit, his spirit, his prompt and ready judgment, were 
ready for them all. It was a position much more likely 
to favour the growth of a certain self-estimation and self- 
confidence than of humility and submission. It is almost 
inconceivable to turn from this picture to the image of 
the prophet, the obscure head of a little sect in America, 
a preacher and teacher little known, totally unacquainted 
with the life with which his disciple was surrounded, 
knowing nothing of its laws or its habits, ignorant of the 
merest elements of its economy, yet entirely dominat- 
ing the existence and actions of that brilliant man of 
the world, and claiming, or at least exercising, absolute 
authority over him in all the complications of a career of 
which the despot had neither experience nor knowledge. 
Yet so it was ; and in the next step in Laurence Oliphant's 
career, which opens up his most private life, and all his 
personal purposes arid motives, we learn, almost with 
consternation, how unbroken was the bond which existed 

236 ALICE. 

between him and not only the Master but the other minor 
authorities of the little commonwealth. 

For it was in the end of this eventful year that he first 
met in Paris the beautiful and delightful companion of 
his future life. It is difficult to those who did not know 
her to convey an idea of what Alice le Strange was. 
" Not a woman at all, an angel ! " cried an enthusiast 
who met her in a later portion of her life. It is perhaps 
more wise, however, to say with Eobert Browning, that 
far more than any angelic similitude of which we know 
nothing, she was herself one of the most perfect flowers 
of humankind, a young woman of an ancient and long- 
established race, with all the advantages of fine and care- 
ful training, and that knowledge from her cradle of good 
society, good manners, and notable persons, which is an 
advantage beyond all estimation to the mind qualified to 
profit by it. She was the daughter of Henry le Strange 
of Hunstanton, in Norfolk, who was not only the repre- 
sentative of a long line of country gentlemen, but a man 
of very high artistic tastes and knowledge, and who had 
a great deal to do with the revival of ecclesiastical art 
forty or fifty years ago : and of his wife, the daughter 
of John Stewart of Drumin, Banffshire, an accomplished 
woman, of great social distinction and popularity both 
in London and Paris. She had also the unusual felicity 
of what might be called almost a third parent in her 
stepfather, Mr Wynne Finch (Mr le Strange having died 
while his children were young), between whom and the 
child, so full of brilliant originality, there existed a won- 
derful bond of mutual sympathy and devotion ; and to 
whose constant understanding and care she owed much 
of her development, as well as the happiness of a delight- 
ful home. Alice was the second daughter, and one of the 
most attractive and charming of God's creatures, with 
considerable beauty and much talent, full of brightness 
and originality, sympathetic, clear-headed, yet an en- 
thusiast, and with that gift of beautiful diction and melo- 
dious speech which is one of the most perfect ever given 
to man. She was a fine musician as well as a brilliant 
conversationalist, and she had been accustomed all her 


life to the- best of English, or indeed it may be said 
European, society, for Paris was as much her home as 
London. It very rarely happens that friends, acquaint- 
ances, and lookers-on are all of one opinion concerning 
any individual ; but I have never heard of any diversity 
of view in respect to Alice le Strange. I have heard her 
spoken of in all kinds of quarters, and from the most fas- 
tidious critics in London down to the humble and homely 
German colonists in Haifa, there has never been but one 
voice. She was so full of " charm," that inexplicable 
fascination which is more than beauty, that it was 
possible her actual gifts might have been overlooked in 
the pleasure of encountering herself, the combination of 
them all ; so that the beauty, the wit, the sweet vivacity, 
the pure and brilliant intelligence, became so many de- 
lightful discoveries after the first and greatest, of find- 
ing one's self face to face with a being so gracious and 

It may be said of Miss le Strange, as of Laurence, that 
she had fully tasted all the applauses and sweetnesses of 
society. She was not a novice, overawed by curious and 
entrancing religious experiences on the very threshold of 
life, but had known what it was to be admired and wor- 
shipped, and learned at once how exciting and how unsat- 
isfactory are the triumphs of society. When she encoun- 
tered in Paris, in the most natural way, the correspondent 
of the ' Times/ so much talked of and so universally known, 
she had arrived at the critical moment which in many fine 
natures is decisive of all future fate. She was a little 
weary even of admiration, tired of unprofitable life, long- 
ing for something better and higher than she had as yet 
found. The benevolences of country life had not seemed 
enough for her, as they do to some women, whom they 
enable to hold the balance more or less even between the 
dissipations of society and the requirements of serious 
existence. She had not felt one side of her nature suffici- 
ently indemnified for its temporary subjection to the other 
by any such gentle round of duties. Years before, her 
clear spirit had become involved in religious doubt, or 
rather in that more general dissatisfaction with all the 

238 ALICE. 

remedies and panaceas proposed to her, in which many 
young souls make secret shipwreck. She wanted, like 
Edward Irving, something more magnanimous, something 
more exacting and authoritative, than the calm and indul- 
gent Christianity which she generally met with. Her 
slight shoulders longed for a cross to be laid upon them, 
and her impatient heart for some great thing to suffer or 
to do. 

The first approach to intimacy between the young 
creature so prepared and ready for the influence of their 
religious views, and the mother and son who were her 
neighbours, was brought about, I believe, by an invitation 
from Lady Oliphant to Miss le Strange to accompany her 
on the long drives which she was in the habit of taking 
daily ; and Laurence soon had opportunities of meeting 
and knowing the beautiful stranger. It had, I gather 
from an intimation in a letter, been conceded by the 
supreme authorities in America some time before that an 
embargo as to marriage which had been laid upon him 
should be taken off though whether he had been told of 
this before he saw Alice le Strange I am unable to tell. 
I am glad to say, however, that notwithstanding the 
intense preoccupation with the most serious questions, 
which is apparent in the letters from which I am about 
to quote, and the evident fact that she had been instantly 
initiated into the secrets of the new life, and had received 
with enthusiasm and faith the lessons of her two ardent 
instructors, yet there is every reason to believe that this 
pair, so completely suited to each other, so formed and 
adapted for union, fell honestly and spontaneously in love 
with each other, in the old natural way, without any 
arri&re pensfa. It was their belief (as they thought, quite 
novel and wonderful ; but, in fact, the faith of all religi- 
ous mystics, both Catholic and Puritan), that even in loving 
each other, the chief thing to be considered was the service 
each could do for God and for the benefit of the world, 
and not any selfish happiness of their own. 

In the spring of 1872, having had no warning of 
the possibility of any such happy event, I received a 
letter, written with all the triumph and elation of a for- 


tunate lover, announcing the engagement, and the happi- 
ness which he said he had never expected should fall to 
his lot, and enclosing a photograph of the bright and 
delightful girl who was to share his life. I have mislaid 
this letter ; but I am permitted to quote another of a very 
similar character, addressed to a much more important 

" PARIS, March 6, 1872. 

" My happiness has come at last, one that I am sure 
you would approve, the sweetest and frankest nature that 
I ever met, in thorough sympathy with all my vagaries, 
which she utterly agrees with and understands with the 
intellect of a man and the intuitions of a woman ; in fact, 
the one person who, when I was not looking for her, was 
given to me, so that I could not mistake it My mother 
felt from the first that she was the person. But I forget 
that you have been asking, Who ? She is a daughter of 
the late Mr le Strange of Hunstanton, Norfolk, and a step- 
daughter of Wynne Finch's, who was in the House of 
Commons. She is twenty-six, and according to my taste 
very pretty ; but that has nothing to do with it, only it 
fortunately happens so. I shall be so glad to present her 
to you some day; but I don't know when the marriage 
may take place: the same hand that arranged the first 
part will arrange the second." 

He had excellent reason for the doubt which is visible 
in the last sentence of his letter ; for no sooner had the 
intimation of the engagement been made, than the very 
depths were stirred against the betrothed pair. The 
opposition on the part of Miss le Strange's family and 
friends to her marriage with a man who was disinclined 
to make any settlements, and who even went so far as to 
object to her own fortune being settled upon herself, in 
order not to interfere with her freedom in using it as she 
pleased (it being no doubt understood that her motive was 
to dedicate it to the uses of the community at Brocton) 
was very natural and their inability to understand his 
motives in thus risking her comfort in the eventualities 

240 ALICE. 

of the future is comprehensible enough. But the diffi- 
culties put in the way of the lovers by the family were as 
nothing to the commotion stirred up in the distant com- 
munity by the news. A fragment of a letter sent by a 
lady apparently high in the little commonwealth, and I 
believe addressed to Lady Oliphant, expresses in a way 
which would be almost ludicrous were it not so solemn, 
the consternation with which it was received. I may say 
that the members of Mr Harris's community had special 
names by which they were known within its bosom, and 
which I withhold ; for it is difficult to restrain an uneasy 
inclination to smile at the fantastic and somewhat puerile 
conceit which renders a well-known and distinguished 
man like Laurence Oliphant unrecognisable amid the little 
world of nobodies, under a name which might have suited 
a sentimental schoolboy. It will be enough to use the 
initial W. in quoting from this letter. " Father," of course, 
is Mr Harris : 

" When Father left word that W. was no longer to hold 
himself from seeking a wife, we of course understood 
that he knew how terrible marriage was, and that unless 
through weakness or inability to stand alone, while pass- 
ing through regenerative training, some had to marry, the 
rapid way to victory and use was through purification 
first and marriage afterwards, if God so ordered ; and he 
[Harris] never dreamed of his [Laurence's] loving any one 
till they had been thoroughly tested by the discipline 
of the life. I am sure he will see this when he is free 
enough. He has come so near the centre of the Use, that 
he must, if he holds ground and retains his place, share 
in its sharpest trials, in its deepest martyrdoms. . . . 
If this dear girl can give him up utterly to God, and enter 
upon whatever discipline is before her, to prepare herself 
for the place and use in God's new kingdom, He will 
bring them together when and as He will, if they are for 
each other." 

The pair were thus plunged into uncertainties and 
doubts, which filled the period of their engagement with 


trouble. The letters from which I am allowed to quote, 
form perhaps the most extraordinary correspondence that 
ever passed between a pair of lovers. Unfortunately the 
replies have not been preserved; but they are reflected 
more or less in the letters of Laurence, whose love and 
delight in his chosen bride are thus rudely brought to the 
question. It does not seem to have once entered into his 
mind to contest the judgment of the " Father." He implores 
his beloved to receive it with patience, to believe that it 
is the best, to trust in the perfect enlightenment of the 
leader, who cannot do wrong; he entreats her to write, 
making her own submission, and conciliating that poten- 
tate. When there comes an actual order to stop the 
marriage, he himself would seem to have had no idea 
of anything but complete obedience ; and it is the most 
extraordinary spectacle to see the passionate lover paus- 
ing in all the enthusiasm of his hopes which are not 
those of ordinary (or extraordinary) happiness with her, 
but of the immense advantage to the cause, of her work, 
and of the redoubled energy and force which her help 
will bring to show himself and her what a still more 
excellent thing it will be to bear the reversal of all these 
hopes and make up their mind to separation, if their 
united submission and representations do not change the 
judgment of the autocrat and his counsellors. It is with 
this anxious desire that he begs of her to answer the letter 
above quoted, with a promise to obey its requirements. 
" Pour out your heart to her as if she were your mother," 
he says. " Tell her all without reserve. And if you feel 
you can, call her mother," he adds, wistfully. No more 
strange exhibition of the strength and weakness involved 
in such amazing relationships could be : for the faith is 
one which could move mountains, and the subjection 
almost too wonderful for words. 

The correspondence throughout is, as has been said, a 
very extraordinary one. The constant struggle to regard 
their love as an abstract and spiritual passion, and subdue 
the warm human sentiment which is perpetually bursting 
forth ; his happiness and pride in herself, and the sense 
that she is his, subdued into a boast of the efficiency of 


242 ALICE. 

the service she is to be trained to render to the great 
cause; his eagerness that she should accept the yoke, 
which yet he has a thousand fears she will find heavy and 
painful ; his anxious descriptions, excuses, deprecations of 
all criticism in respect to " the dear ones in America," and 
even the occasional sophistries he is betrayed into, in order 
that the reputation of these dear ones may be kept intact, 
afford, as they reveal themselves, the most curious 
glimpse into the heart and deepest feelings of the man. 
The dates, or rather no dates, are extremely confusing, 
and it is difficult to attempt any arrangement of the 
letters ; but they were all written in the months of April 
and May 1872, when Miss le Strange was in London with 
her mother. The engagement had taken place in March, 
too soon, he almost allows ; but he had been unable to 
restrain the avowal of his feelings. Some time before 
this, however, it is apparent, the eager girl had been ad- 
mitted into the sanctuary of his religious life, and had felt 
a new world of sacred joy and a new revelation of active 
service opened to her, which seems to have answered every 
longing of her nature, and filled her unsatisfied thoughts 
with light and love. He speaks to her fondly, as his little 
one, his nursling, his darling baby, won by him to another 
and better life, and his, not for time alone, but for eter- 
nity ; but at the same time as a great instrument in God's 
hand, a leader of myriads yet to be. To reproduce all 
his fond instructions, directions, encouragements, and the 
checks which are if possible still more fond adjurations 
to her to be a little dull if she can, to subdue her intel- 
lectual powers, and veil her natural brilliancy, and accept 
the conditions of the work before her would be impos- 
sible ; but I may quote a few paragraphs here and there. 
" What more intense happiness could the world give," he 
cries, in a sudden outburst of feeling, " than to see my 
darling overcoming all opposition, and, like some flaming 
angel, leading on the suffering womanhood of her world to 
new and unsuspected possibilities of victory ? " 

" Now that you are one of us, all your gifts belong to 
those with whom you are spiritually connected, far more 


than they do to you. In one sense you efface your own 
individuality, while in another the world will find you 
more of an individual than ever, and you yourself will 
be conscious of increased power and originality. In the 
degree in which you can regard your power of pleasing as 
belonging to all of us, and as not being in any sense your 
own, will it increase, and will the joy which it will bring 
you grow ; for you will feel that every one who comes under 
the divine spell that you will thus be able to exercise, 
comes towards the light, not towards you as an individual. 
You will soon get to loathe and hate the idea that it could 
ever have mattered to you whether people liked you or 
not, considering the importance of what you want them to 
like. You will become a divine decoy, luring with angelic 
art those round whom the evil ones have woven their toils, 
out of them, and getting them upon strong safe ground. 
And the notion of taking any credit to yourself for thus 
using the talents given you for this express purpose, will 
become utterly repulsive to you, and so will be the idea 
that the talents themselves are any more yours than mine. 
You have thrown them into the common stock, darling, 
and they will soon get so mixed up with the other people's, 
that you won't know one from another. Besides, now that 
you are of us, you will often be conscious of being helped 
and upheld, and will therefore have nothing to be vain of. 
I have sometimes been conscious that the most successful 
things I have done have been owing to the strength I 
derived, from an internal rapport with Mr Harris, who was 
fighting down influences opposing me at the time." 

His anxiety to lead her to full comprehension of this 
bond and willingness to enter into it calls forth many 
persuasions and explanations, and anticipatory defences 
on behalf of the central figure in the little world into 
which Laurence had led his love. He bids her remember 
that all the new light which has come to her, and the new 
development of life which she has embraced so eagerly, 
is owing to one man: 

" It may be that the great life, and knowledge what the 

244 ALICE. 

life is, which you are receiving, is to prepare you for the 
strain your faith may be put to when you see him, and 
have to accept him and the phenomena which surround 
him, and which are almost sure to produce upon you a 
painful effect. He himself may not be externally sym- 
pathetic, his way of communicating things may jar upon 
you, and many things may happen which may even appear 
faults or incredible. At those times, remember where you 
would have been now without him, and that whatever the 
mother or D. or I have received or have been able to tell 
you, we owe to him." 

On another occasion he again takes up the defence of 
the prophet, who at this very moment was endeavouring 
to postpone or break off the union upon which his heart 
was so much set: 

" So far from his wishes being despotic, when we have 
got into right relations with him, it becomes our greatest 
pleasure and delight to take counsel with him, to draw 
from him words of wisdom which we may try to carry 
out; because, of course, the very nature of his life and 
habits unfit him for the rough contact of the world. He 
knows nothing whatever of society and its usages, and 
wants the legs and arms and brains accustomed to the 
workaday world to carry out and put into practice the 
glorious moral truths that he has been the instrument 
of imparting. In America, where life is rough, and our 
little party are simple and remote from all worldly influ- 
ences, he has come more out into the direction of the 
labours and industries of every day. But here I have 
always wondered how it was to be done, and now I am 
beginning to hope that it may be done through us, if we 
can hold ourselves humble and loving ; for he ' senses ' the 
least coldness towards himself, and it stops everything. 
We have each of us to feel more knit into his organism 
than into each other. His functions are pivotal, and 
we in a sense meet in him ; for our breath is in some 
mysterious way enfolded in his. All he knows of you 
is through the conspiration of your united breaths. It 


differs from the afflatus, of which Miss speaks so 

lightly, in certain particulars, which he will explain to 
you some day. But we all owe under God what we have 
and feel as the breath to him : the particular quality of it 
which we enjoy came first to him, and owing to our 
rapport with him we get the same. Nor would it be 
possible for any one to be in our breath who was not first 
in closest rapport with him and then with each other. 
It is the sensational bond of our union ; it binds us 
together mysteriously and internally, and with a force 
which makes us feel so absolutely one that we can oppose 
to the world, when the time comes, a power before which 
everything must give way." 

The extracts which follow are of a more general char- 
acter, and I think that some of his expressions, especially 
about prayer, are very fine, and will find an echo in many 
hearts. In one instance he has been confiding to her 
some severe spiritual struggles of his own: 

" Doubtless this is a weakness in my own will, and I 
ask, Why is not my will stronger ? and so get into the 
interminable circle from which there is no escape except 
by the very illogical but efficacious means of prayer. 
And then I always find myself praying about you. It 
seems as if I was of ' no account,' as the Yankees say, in 
comparison. It does not occur to me that it would be 
asking much to give one's soul for those who are chosen 
by God for His work, much less one's body." 

On another occasion, speaking of prayer, and especially 
of prayer for her, he describes himself as " uplifted with 
such full breath -pulsations, encouraging me and telling 
me what to ask for you. In those moments divine sug- 
gestions come, the right prayer comes from God as well 
as goes to Him. It is, in fact, His way of conversing 
with us." 

Once more I can find nothing parallel with this but 
John Knox's magnificent description of " the earnest and 
familiar talking with God." One may be quite sure Lau- 

246 ALICE. 

rence did not get it from John Knox, with whose ideal he 
would have imagined himself to have no sympathy what- 
ever, but direct from the understanding of the devout 
heart. Here is another fine apprehension of that more 
magnanimous view of Christian work and recompense 
which was dear to those visionary souls: 

" I was thinking to-day, darling, how it would help us, 
to realise that all pleasures, joy, and happiness must never 
be considered except as being the accident of service. The 
mistake of the popular theology is that it makes people 
desire their salvation for its own sake, instead of its being 
the accident of our working for other people. It seems 
very hard upon God that He cannot invest His service 
with delight without our having a tendency to drop the 
service and appropriate the delight. "We have thus got 
into the habit of putting the cart before the horse. . . . 
We are not forbidden to enjoy intensely the pleasure He 
attaches to the fulfilment of our highest duties ; but the 
love of those highest duties must be greater than that of 
the delight which they impart." 

He returns again and again to the importance of her 
mission both to himself and to the world : 

" I felt a little uneasy and sad about something, prob- 
ably my own evils and the low state from which I am un- 
able to rise into a nearer union with God. It is so hard 
to keep the interior part of one where it should be, all the 
time one is in the world ; and it often makes me feel very 
unhappy to think that I am not more spiritual and con- 
scious of divine influences. Then I think, selfishly, if I 
had you to help me I should rise higher, and get from 
your strength and support what no one else could give. 
By degrees you would come to know all my weak points, 
for my whole desire would be that you should know where 
I fail, and what my most secret and insidious faults are." 

Speaking again of former religious, movements, he 
adds : 


" There is a particular feature in them the women 
played no part, or scarcely any at all ; and this I believe 
to be the chief reason of their failure. And this is why, 
my own darling, I cherish you so for humanity's sake, be- 
cause I believe that when you come into child-states, and 
thus become susceptible to the divine influence, which 
cannot reach you while the old self-hood bars the door, 
you will become conscious of deep inner truths, not per- 
haps convertible into language, before at all events they 
have borne fruit into acts, and these may be the basis of 
the new feminine part of the religious structure." The 
battle, he adds, will be made easier for her by the prelimi- 
nary work of others in America, and " especially when you 
recognise the fact that you are engaged in a stupendous 
work of religious and moral reform, which is destined by 
its irresistible, if slow and painfully developed, influence 
to penetrate the hardness of the world's selfishness. It 
will take a long time ; we may never live to see it. But 
I feel as sure as of my own existence that the future of 
the human race lies in the hands of the members of it ; 
that it is by no apparently miraculous interposition that 
its regeneration is to be accomplished, but by the steady 
undermining of the principle of selfish love, which holds 
everything in an iron grasp now, by the more powerful 
principle of martyr love ; and the whole of what is called 
the scheme of redemption lies in the hint which Christ's 
life and death gave us of this great truth." 

One cannot but feel a curious sense of the strange mis- 
apprehension mingling with so much fine spiritual percep- 
tion, which could make Laurence think his own struggles 
to maintain the impossible rule of his creed in respect to 
marriage, and his bride's conflict with her relations as to 
the disposal of her money, to be carrying out the " hint " 
contained in the life and death of the divine example of 
all martyrdoms. This is the thread of weakness through- 
out ; but it is not without parallel in the reflections of 
many deeply religious minds, unable to perceive the enor- 
mous difference of magnitudes, or to believe how little 
more than personal at the best, if not purely fantastic, 

248 ALICE. 

some of these struggles were. This, however, is to be 
taken here only as a parenthesis. He has more to say of 
the woman's share in the religious work which he believes 
to be before her, indeed the letters are full of this sub- 
ject, which recurs again and again : 

" I am feeling more and more the need of your teach- 
ing, things that you alone in the world can teach me. 
My whole nature is standing still till I can learn through 
you what the woman through her ' word ' alone can teach. 
I feel this more and more every day. It will not be from 
your brain or through your intellect, darling, that those 
deeper knowledges which I am thirsting for will come, and 
those truths which, when I have assimilated them, will 
give me new power for influencing my fellow-creatures. 
If in some things you are my child, in others I have got 
to become yours ; and this is the moment I am longing 
for, when I can drink in and absorb from you the mysteries 
of a love which the world knows nothing of yet when I 
can learn from you what I can never find out by myself. 
This is why I want you to press on, not because I want 
this moment selfishly to come, but because it will enable 
us both to come into our uses ; and I feel and know 1 shall 
be so much more powerful for good in the world. Only 
believe this to be the case, do not reason about it, take it 
for granted for the time, that you have it in your power to 
work out these wonders in my organism, almost to change 
and renew it, to double all my powers and faculties : and 
whether you understand it or not, the thought may be a 
stimulus to you, and may prevent you from losing ground 
by doubts. I tell you this, darling, in order that you may 
feel the additional responsibility as an additional reason 
for keeping down the part of your nature that you have 
been accustomed to respect and rely upon. It is just the 
other part that you have never developed that I respect 
and rely upon, and you can only develop this in the degree 
in which you keep the other back. The great dual prin- 
ciple of the world is love and wisdom, and the latter can 
only be developed through the former. The intellect is 
entirely dependent upon the affections. Good comes first, 


truth afterwards. Moral truth cannot be discovered by a 
bad man, and hence the only way to obtain it is through 
developing the emotional and intuitive faculties of our 

Whether Miss le Strange had any difficulty in accepting 
the supremacy of the spiritual leader so warmly and ten- 
derly, yet with so many deprecations, pressed upon her, 
there is no evidence to show. She did accept the post- 
ponement of the marriage with a sweet and humble acquies- 
cence for which he thanks her with enthusiasm ; and she 
wrote to the autocrat, putting herself in his hands, and 
unfolding the secrets of her pure spirit without any signs 
of reluctance, as was required from her. What is appar- 
ently the brouillon of this letter is enclosed with the cor- 
respondence from which I have quoted, and I extract from 
it a few passages to show how this clear and beautiful 
spirit yielded to the yoke: 

" When W. told me yesterday to write to you and ask 
you for that help which I have learned to know you will 
give me, it was at first difficult for me to tell whether the 
hesitation I felt came more from the sense of the imperti- 
nence there might be in forcing myself with all my wants 
before you, or from the irrevocable and solemn nature of 
the plunge I should be making into engagements that I 
had felt and professed myself willing to undertake, but 
had not till that moment had the courage to invoke. A 
few moments showed me that my cowardice on my own 
account was greater than my scruple on yours. And you 
will, I trust, forgive me for acting upon this conviction, and 
trying to tell you why I appeal to you." 

Then follows an account of the spiritual difficulties of 
many years, which were principally caused by extreme 
horror of and pity for the suffering in the world, and 
inability to understand how a God of love and goodness 
could permit it to be difficulties which had driven her to 
doubts of God's existence, or at least of His benevolence, 
had made her for a long time incapable of prayer, and 

250 ALICE. 

weighed her down with a miserable sense of impotence in 
the face of all those problems of sorrow and pain. She 
did, however, she tells Mr Harris, endeavour to do what 
she could for others ; but always with the intolerable doubt 
whether there was any good in it, or if her exertions were 
of the least use. She was also hampered by another fact, 
which she states with delightful na/ivttt : 

" I could not see my way clear, or feel sure whether I 
was doing more harm than good half the time that I 
worked for others, and a very great difficulty grew in 
me that I hardly knew how to combat rightly; it was, 
that the great love that grew up around me among all 
the people with whom I came in habitual contact made 
it almost impossible to test the purity of my desire to 
do right, or to know how far I was independent of this 
flow of approbation and affection, that made it seem so 
much easier than of old to be working for others." 

The beautiful soul, so wrapped round in admiration and 
love that she could scarcely believe in her own disinter- 
ested charity, is a rare spectacle in this world ; and it is 
seldom that such a being opens her lips, almost with a soft 
complaint of this nattering atmosphere of universal sun- 
shine, and of all the influences that worked together to 
raise in her the noble discontent of a new spiritual life. 
She goes on: 

" And so I came to know W., and saw for the first time 
some one who not only held the highest views I had ever 
imagined on the subject of our responsibilities, but had 
found it possible to work them out into a life much 
purer and more full of use than anything I had thought 
compatible with the human nature I had seen around 
me. I was beginning to take in the idea of how that 
life had become possible to him and to others, when I 
began also to know that I was ceasing to feel for him 
the mere respect and distant affection with which the 
great beauty of his nature had inspired me. I was 
horribly disturbed, knowing that to go forward without 


feeling ready to fight in the same battle, reckless of con- 
sequences, with him, would be doing a wicked wrong to 
him ; and yet not knowing how I should tell whether or 
not the increased willingness I felt to devote my life to 
this ceaseless labour was fed by the personal feeling. It 
was a different difficulty from any I had dealt with yet, 
for love for others, which had guided me before, was this 
time bound up with that new vision of a possible happi- 
ness to myself ; and I was at a loss, in a way I had neve? 
been before, to know what was right and what was wrong, 
while this terrible fear hung over me, that I might be 
imperilling the happiness of the only man of whom I had 
ever felt that I could love him rightly. So I ventured in 
this strait to pray for power not to do wrong ; and from 
that moment the doubt was taken away, and without quite 
foreseeing what was going to be, I went about with a calm 
and even conviction that all would come right in its own 
way, and that I need not be afraid. I was never in all 
my life so thankful for anything as for the sense of an 
answer to my prayer for knowledge how to do and feel 
right. So learning gradually from W. how he had been 
taught to serve, I glided into the moment when I pledged 
myself to serve side by side with him, and, like him, with- 
out counting the cost. 

" And now I must make a clean breast to you, as he has 
told me to do, of the bad thing in me that I had to fight, 
so soon as I realised the completeness of the discipline I 
must be willing to undergo. There is no kind or quality 
of work that I could ever feel it much of a trial to do ; the 
sense of possessing property as a thing personal to myself 
is one I have never hugged, having lived through so many 
times when the power or the ease that people associate 
with it were all so impotent to affect me. And I have 
gradually for some years been keeping more and more 
aloof from prejudices among my friends that had a ten- 
dency to hamper my right action, so that I can face, 
without any very pressing anxiety, the dislike they may 
feel to my "working out my life in a way of which the 
strangeness will alarm them ; while the hope of being 
allowed to join in an organised combination of effort for 

252 ALICE. 

living in pure goodness and working for others, is so 
blessed and unlooked-for a change from the hopelessness 
of permanent results in which I have struggled on till 
now, that I could not waver for a moment in my desire to 
be allowed to make myself fit for joining it. One only 
thing has been a terrible pang to me, the giving over of 
my own judgment in questions of moral judgment to any 
human authority. It is so absolutely new and incom- 
prehensible an idea to me, that any outer test should 
supplant, without risk to itself and to me, the inner test 
of my actions that my conscience affords, that when 
seeing the impossibility of working successfully with 
others without giving practical proof that I can obey 
without criticism of the command, I decided to shut my 
eyes and leave the seeing to you I felt as though I were 
putting out the one clear light that had been given to me 
for my guidance, and that I had been living so many years 
to God to purify ; as though I had suddenly thrown my 
own compass overboard, and was left with my whole life 
exposed to the chances of a sea of uncertainty, and with 
the grim question asking itself over and over again in 
my heart, whether I were not doing wrong ? I answered 
myself, at first more mechanically than with any con- 
viction, that anyhow one thing in me was assuredly 
wrong, the want of humility that added the sting to the 
anxiety, and that, in some way I could not quite yet 
understand, the only thing by which I could break this 
pride in pieces must end in being right. So I am dealing 
to the best of my present powers with this mischief, asking 
for patience when the wonder at not understanding comes 
over me, and settling always to some work to keep my 
strength afloat when the danger comes. And I tell you 
of it, that you may learn all I can find to say of the 
weakness and faults that will want what help you will 
give them, and not because you shall ever find in me 
any but the most absolute submission both in deed and 
will. I hope and believe I shall have bruised even this 
inward resistance long before it could run' the risk of 
throwing upon you or any one else any part of the 
suffering which ought to belong only to me. 


" So now I ask to put myself and ourselves under your 
direction in all matters. You will determine what proof 
we must acquire to ourselves that we hold our happiness 
in absolute fief to our duty ; in what manner, when you 
think it well, we shall inaugurate the joining of our lives ; 
and the degree in which we can usefully comply with or 
disregard the prejudices of my family and friends on the 
subject of performing the marriage ceremony, and dispos- 
ing of the property belonging to me." 

She ends by stating the amount of this last, and that 
some of it was invested in America, " so that I will, on re- 
ceiving your instructions, make my part of that easily 
payable to you for any purpose to which you might see 
fit to apply it." In accordance with the intention here 
expressed, I am authorised to say that the whole of her 
property was placed unreservedly in the hands of Mr 
Harris, with the result which her family had anticipated. 

This extraordinary letter of course disposes of the asser- 
tions often afterwards made by both, that their subjection 
to Harris, and his command of their property and actions, 
were merely the authority of superior wisdom and love 
over grateful and affectionate disciples, the power of 
suggestion, which, through their sympathy and perfect 
trust, became acceptable to their own thoughts, and led 
them to resolve and do, from their own impulse and 
will, what he had put into their minds in the shape of 
loving advice. Yet there was enough of truth in it, I 
imagine, to justify to themselves these assertions ; for it 
was their first endeavour to make the will of this absolute 
friend their own, and so to bring themselves into subjec- 
tion to it, that its dictates might in a sense be considered 
as their own actions, freely inspired and adopted. The 
sophistry of such statements was either unconscious, or 
they felt it one of those offices of filial love which devoted 
children sometimes take up, assuming the responsibility 
upon their own shoulders, of a step of doubtful policy rec- 
ommended by their parents, rather than allow them to 
bear the blame. The following letter from Laurence to 
his betrothed will show exactly what he thought in this 

254 ALICE. 

respect. Their marriage, as has been seen, had been arbi- 
trarily delayed, after it had been decided upon, by letters 
from America, and they were for some time left in doubt 
whether it might not be broken off altogether ; notwith- 
standing which, he warmly approves of her determination 
to describe the postponement to her family as arising from 
"no outward dictation, but from the results of our own 

" The more responsibility of this sort we can take off 
Father the better. He has only been obliged to appear 
dictatorial to those who were unable to act for themselves, 
either from weakness or blindness ; but he desires nothing 
more than that we should decide all these things for our- 
selves, and it would not surprise me at all for him to say 
that we are able to get our life from above without asking 
him as to how the next step is to be taken ; and it would 
be so satisfactory to be able to answer those who accuse 
him of tyranny, and us of a blind and servile obedience, 
by saying that from first to last we have acted not under 
his dictation but according to the promptings of our own 
consciences, and independently of any one. Of course, 
if in doubt, we might ask his advice; but you see he 
explains in his letter there is never any question of 
surrendering one's private judgment. It seems to me 
self-evident that the man who had hit upon the great idea 
not of attempting to apply Christianity in its literal and 
practical working to the existing conditions of society, but 
fundamentally to change these conditions so as to make 
Christianity practicable in society, required a certain 
amount of obedience from those who agreed to try the 
experiment with him without having his light as to how 
it was to be done." 

I do not say that this piteous plea of the vassal soul is 
a thing to be admired, or even without a little difficulty 
excused, in a man so honourable and high-minded as 
Laurence Oliphant. It is one of the things so extra- 
ordinary as to be incredible if it were not actually and 
undeniably true. But the vague sophistry of the- argu- 


ment, the desperate clinging at all costs to the spiritual 
despot, and the pathetic anxiety to justify him and take 
all the blame that may follow upon their own shoulders, 
is touching as well as intolerable. The ineffable infatua- 
tion, folly, or faith which breathes in the peradventure, 
" It would not surprise me at all for him to say that we 
are able to get our life from above without asking him," 
is far beyond the reach of poetic invention. The most 
daring dramatist would scarcely venture to put such an 
utterance into a human mouth. 

And this almost fatuous veneration and admiration was 
called forth by a man who, the speaker well knew, was 
like enough to inspire his refined and delicate Alice with 
little personal sympathy, and who, even to himself, was 
perhaps more love-inspiring at a distance than close at 
hand. One of his strongest desires was to persuade Harris 
to visit him in Paris ; yet of this, though he looked forward 
to it as an honour and delight, he spoke as follows : 

" Father's presence is an awful pressure, though it is a 
blessed one. Because he feels our states so terribly, the 
watchfulness over ourselves has to be unceasing. So it 
should be always ; but somehow I am so miserably finite, 
and I do not realise the divine presence checking me so 
much as the human one." 

Hence, by that subtle influence of " feeling their states 
so terribly," the prophet kept them in awed subjection 
while in his presence, as well as absolute obedience out 
of it a sway scarcely comparable to any other tyranny 
known to man. 

The same sort of sophistry, justified by a reasoning 
more or less Jesuitical, yet not absolutely untrue, occurs 
in the following letter to Mr Hainon le Strange on the 
subject of his sister's fortune, written after the marriage : 

" I observe from your letter to Alice that you are under 
an entire misapprehension in regard to my financial posi- 
tion in America. I do not now, and never have belonged 
to any company or community in that country in any other 

256 ALICE. 

sense than that of living among people I like. There are no 
deeds of partnership or written agreements of any sort or 
kind existing between us, much less involving any joint lia- 
bility for debt. So far as property goes, we are neighbours 
and nothing more. If I have not held my property in my 
own name, it was not because it did not absolutely belong to 
me, but because, as a foreigner, I could not hold it ; and I 
was fortunate enough to have friends I could trust, who 
held it for me. . . . The notion that I belong to a society 
which has all things in common, or that I approve of the 
principle of depriving the owners of property of the privi- 
leges, duties, or responsibilities attaching to it, is one of 
the many false statements accumulated and believed on 
no better foundation than that of common rumour, which 
has constructed a fabric of most incredible falsehood and 
fiction as to what we do and what we believe, and which 
the love of newspaper gossip has spread far and wide. 

"At the same time, the views which I hold in re- 
gard to the necessity of social and moral reform in the 
world, and the possibility of carrying them out which 
Alice, after a thorough and careful investigation, fully 
shares are not commonly entertained, partly because 
they are not known or understood, partly because they 
are not theoretical but practical, and partly because the 
prejudice is very firmly rooted in the world that any 
attempt to improve it is Utopian all attempts hitherto 
in that direction having failed. One principle which I 
think thoroughly unsound in the law of England is that 
which treats women as mere chattels, and deprives them 
on marriage of any right to hold property. I could not 
agree to Alice dispossessing herself of that faculty which 
the law of America recognises, and in respect to which 
there was a recent debate in the House of Commons, 
which I consider as involving a principle in regard to 
women's social status which is the foundation of any 
reform of the present social system. . . . You will now, 
I hope, understand that any property which, in accordance 
with American law, I make over by deed to Alice as her 
own separate and distinct possession, is hers now and in 
the event of my death, without liability of any kind or 


sort ; while besides, in accordance with my strongest feel- 
ings of what is due to her, I insist upon her remaining 
absolute mistress of all she inherited from her father, and 
investing it as she pleases. Beyond this, she has a right 
to a third of the rest of my property should I die ; but 
her chance of what this may amount to depends, as in the 
case of any other American wife, upon the success of my 
financial undertakings. In regard to this, I can only say 
that I hold it as the sacred duty of every man to invest 
his capital in such a careful way as may give him the 
best power to do his duty by his fellow-men." 

The most careful way of investing his property so that 
he might do his duty by his fellow-men was, in the eyes 
of Laurence, to place it under the administration of Mr 
Harris in the little domain at Brocton ; and the freedom 
of Alice to dispose of her money as she thought fit, meant 
also, as has been seen, the placing of it in the same hands. 
Nevertheless, as it was possible at a later period to re- 
claim this property, or part of it, it must have been a fact 
that Laurence at least retained a claim to the land he had 
bought. So that by a bewildering possibility of argument 
both things were true the first, that he had bought land 
in America, and held it as his own ; and the other fact, 
that everything he had was in the hands of Harris. Few 
men thus fight for the power of depriving themselves of 
their property, yet, by a twist of the Scriptural precept 
not to let their right hand know what their left hand does, 
conceal the self-sacrifice under a pretence of profitable in- 
vestment. But yet one would have preferred that there 
should have been no double meaning, and that the spirit 
being so, the letter should not have been strained to con- 
vey a different impression to uninstructed ears. 

I must not omit a curious accidental light thrown by 
this correspondence on the attitude of Laurence long 
before, at the time of his first connection with Harris, 
which has been already referred to. While he is exhort- 
ing his betrothed to think less of the intellectual qualities 
of her nature and to cultivate quietness, and even the 
possibility of being considered dull and stupid (he might 


258 ALICE. 

as well have said ugly and awkward, both being impos- 
sible), " It would do you no harm," he says, " to go through 
a little course of this " 

" Just as I did during the first two sessions when I went 
into the House of Commons, and my- friends thought I was 
going to electrify the House and the country when I 
was forbidden to open my lips, and finally was set down 
as a parliamentary failure, it having been the ambition of 
my life to be a parliamentary success, and I being con- 
scious that I had it in me to be one, if I were only allowed 
to try." 

What enormous responsibility the man took upon him- 
self who ventured to give such commands ! and how in- 
conceivable is the submission which a man like Laurence, 
eager for every kind of distinction, full of capacity, having 
just attained the position he had looked forward to for 
years, gave to the obscure Swedenborgian preacher, the 
uncultured American, who thus assumed over him the 
authority of God Himself. The act of submission above 
quoted of a second brilliant and impatient intellect, full 
of independent sentiment, almost wilful in the previous 
stages of her development, adds to the wonder with which 
we contemplate this extraordinary submission. It seems 
impossible to believe that a mere vulgar impostor could ever 
have gained such an ascendancy; and more respectful to 
these two disciples, as well as to the others who submitted 
to his sway, is the supposition that Harris, at least at this 
stage, was no impostor at all, but believed in his own 
mission, as well as that he must have been endowed with 
extraordinary and imposing gifts of character to give him 
such power. But the possession of power like this, so 
much beyond that which should be entrusted to any man, 
must be more demoralising to the holder of it than to its 
subjects. They suffered earthly loss, and were subjected 
to much keen and some contemptuous criticism, but 
with this compensation, that their extraordinary sacrifices 
and renunciations gained them a unique position in the 
world, and surrounded them with interest and sympathy 


wherever they went ; whereas their prophet could do 
nothing but fall, fall from his high estate into the abyss 
where broken idols and exploded pretensions must in- 
fallibly go. 

The objections of Miss le Strange's family were finally 
set aside, and the marriage took place eventually with no 
breach of the natural ties of affection, though without any 
formal approval or sanction from her relations. The objec- 
tions of the community in America, and specially of its 
head, were more difficult to overcome ; but that too was 
at last accomplished : and in June 1872 the marriage of 
Laurence Oliphant and Alice le Strange took place at 
St George's, Hanover Square. It is impossible to enter 
into other circumstances of this union, which make it 
more remarkable still than all that had gone before, but 
which belong entirely to the privacies of individual life. 
There were, as the reader will see after, breaches and 
troubles in it which involved much suffering, through the 
direct influence of the authority to which both had bound 
themselves ; but the bond was always one of the purest 
affection and complete sympathy, and it ended as it began, 
in beautiful and perfect union. 

Laurence retained his position as correspondent of the 
' Times ' for more than a year after this happy event, and 
I think that the entire period of his residence in Paris 
was a bright and pleasant chapter in his much-diversified 
career. His influence was considerable and his popular- 
ity great, and his knowledge of everybody who was worth 
knowing in Parisian society gave him great advantages, both 
political and social. I understand that it was through his 
representations that the annoyances of the passport system 
were finally given up ; and he told me himself a curious 
story of a proposal made to him on the part of M. Thiers, 
who was anxious to secure the support of the ' Times ' at 
almost any price, to which Laurence responded that the 
way to secure the support of the ' Times ' was to make the 
Government measures known to its representative, and to 
secure his approval which on these conditions he would 
not fail to express publicly. There was a certain amount 
of jest in the story as he told it; but there can be no 

260 ALICE. 

doubt that he was much consulted by M. Thiers, and that 
the half in jest of such an anecdote is often whole in 
earnest to those who know. 

There is another delightful and characteristic anecdote 
of this period which must be told, though I am a little 
uncertain about dates. A revolutionary meeting was 
about to be held at Lyons, concerning which consider- 
able alarm was entertained, and of which Laurence was 
anxious to be able to indicate the tendency and real 
danger or futility. He had apparently thought it of 
sufficient importance to go down to Lyons, on purpose to 
see what could be seen. The prefect, to whom he went 
on his arrival, advised him strongly against attending it, 
and finally declared that he must take the responsibility 
on himself, as he, the prefect, could not undertake to 
guarantee the safety even of his life. But this was no 
reason against the enterprise for Laurence, to whom at 
all times " the danger's self was lure alone." He went 
accordingly, and gained admittance among the crowd ; 
but just as the proceedings were beginning some one 
got wit of his presence, and rising, warned the assembly 
that an emissary from that brutal English journal the 
' Times ' was among them. An immediate tumult arose, 
and cries of " Cherchons-le ! a la mort ! a la riviere ! " re- 
sounded. As may be supposed, Laurence immediately 
joined himself to the demonstrators, jumping to his feet 
in overwhelming indignation, and shouting with the best. 
" Cherchons-le ! cherchons-le ! " he cried ; " moi, je le con- 
nais de vue ! " He got out safely, it is scarcely needful to 
say, under cover of this zeal for his own discovery. An 
acute critic suggests in respect to this story that his accent 
would at once have betrayed him; but certainly in the 
excitement of the moment Laurence was not the man to 
think of such a risk, and perhaps there were Englishmen 
or at least foreigners among the democrats of Lyons, 
as there are in most places under the sun. 

There is also a curious story, which was related to me 
in much detail by a very competent authority, which tells 
how Laurence, being present at a stance given by a then 
well-known medium in Paris, was somehow fascinated by 


the man's looks, supposing he must have met him before, 
so familiar did his face appear. Though this did not prove 
to be the case, he got into conversation with the medium, 
and walking part of the way home with him, was persuaded 
to go into the rooms of his new acquaintance, where he 
remained for some time talking over their mutual expe- 
riences of the unseen, which always interested him so 
strongly. At last the medium seemed to recollect some- 
thing which accounted for the sense of previous acquaint- 
ance in both their minds. " Now that I think," he said, 
" I have surely come across your name in some way not 
long ago. Let us look if it was among these letters," and 
he brought out a number of letters, which he laid upon the 
table at which they were sitting. Laurence, who had long 
ceased to have any faith in spiritual manifestations of this 
kind that is to say, that he believed them to be spiritual 
phenomena indeed, but produced by the lowest and basest 
of earth -haunting spirits turned the letters over with 
languid curiosity, until startled by finding a letter to him- 
self addressed in the handwriting of his father, who had 
been dead for nearly twenty years ! The story is a thrilling 
one ; but there is no doubt, had such a startling proof of 
the reality of any medium's pretensions been genuine, the 
world would have heard it in all details. It is a specimen 
of the fabulous legends that accumulate around any history 
in which the occult and unseen are touched, in whatever 

In 1873, as abruptly as before, and in consequence of a 
summons from America, the household was broken up, the 
post abandoned, and the family, consisting of Lady Oliphant, 
Laurence, and his wife, suddenly departed from Paris, and 
set out across the Atlantic for the home at Brocton, from 
whence the guidance of all their actions came. 




IT was in the summer of 1873 that Laurence returned to 
the settlement at Brocton, to the little community immersed 
in farm-work and daily toil, with his mother, who knew 
what awaited her there, and his beautiful young wife, who 
did not know. Whether the others felt their hearts sink 
when they took Alice into that strange sphere, or whether 
they were too secure in her faith and enthusiasm to fear 
anything, I cannot tell ; but one would imagine that the 
actual entry into a form of existence so entirely unknown 
to her must have been attended at least to those who 
were her guides and leaders, and especially to her husband, 
who had first directed her thoughts thither, and held it 
before her as the haven and resting-place from all trouble 
with much tremor and searchings of heart. The almost 
apologetic explanation which Laurence had already made 
of the " rough and simple life," of " Father's " complete 
ignorance of the usages of society, &c., show that he 
himself was by no means assured of the effect it would 
produce upon his wife. Of all this, however, we have no 

Neither can I give, nor would it be possible to give if I 
could, any further picture of the community and actual 
circumstances which awaited the pilgrims. But I may 
here quote a letter written by Mr Harris himself, which 
has been lent to me, and which gives a description of, at 
all events, the exterior circumstances of the community. 
It was written in answer to an article upon Brocton which 
had appeared in a New York paper. In the beginning of 
this letter he protests, as any English gentleman might do, 
against the tricks of the newspaper correspondents, who 
thrust themselves upon him, and spied upon all his pro- 
ceedings, which is one point upon which he will have the 
reader's full sympathy. But he goes on to give a succinct 
account of himself, which is interesting, and in which he 
assumes the attitude of a man withdrawn from the world, 


yet profoundly sensitive to every prick and touch of vulgar 
contact. " They are especially painful," he says, " at the 
present moment, when, having been relieved of my various 
trusts for others, I have withdrawn into private life." The 
date is 8th February 1871, so that, whatever the trusts 
were from which he had been relieved, his position in 
respect to his own immediate society was still that which 
we have seen. " As our beloved country," he continues, 
"sinks daily into deeper profligacy and corruption, and 
the press becomes more infernal, I shrink more and more 
from that contact which is caused by publicity. Experi- 
ence has taught me that this generation is only to be saved 
by the chastisements and just judgments of God." 

" I will only say here for you (but not for the public), 
that there is here no ' community ' ; every friend controls 
his own property and manages his own affairs. Some of 
the brothers carry on business on their individual account ; 
others in co-operation or partnership. There is no unity 
other than that which is the result of mutual assistance in 
seeking to fulfil the requirements of a pure self-denying life. 
So of creeds and covenants. There is no external bond of 
religious union ; . . . the spiritual influences that in earlier 
times wrought out the cloister and cathedral now work 
into finance and political economy, with mechanics and 
agriculture, with whatever promotes the social wellbeing 
of mankind. Hence I am content, as a reformer and 
religious teacher, to be merely a business man. 

" The Church must become secular if it would be a sav- 
ing power. When I became convinced that my proceed- 
ings and writings, if continued, would result in a new sect, 
I shrank appalled from the sin and curse of adding a new 
' Ism' to the others, and determined that, God helping me, 
I would simply ' Live the life,' and try to help others to do 
the same. Beginning on this basis of unselfishness, and 
filled with the one thought, ' Christianity must be lived as 
a social life,' friends gathered around me unsought, asking 
to become members of my family, and interested in my 
pursuits. Since 1860 I have carried out these ideal prin- 
ciples in their application to a world of practical affairs. 


My friends to whom I imparted my thoughts and methods, 
and the spirit in which they originated, are embodying 
them here, in Europe, in Asia preaching not with words 
but with works. Finally, this phase of my life being 
ended, I retire from human co-operation with my friends, 
that they may acquire the power that comes from that in- 
dependent exercise of gifts. Each of them grasping the 
enlarged function, goes on to become trained in social use, 
and so to attract and to impart to others. 

" If you should pass this way, you will find, if you need 
refreshment, that my restaurant at Brocton Junction has 
a reputation for pure food and drink, and for moderate 
charges, not surpassed between Chicago and New York. 
If you stay one night, the Salem-on-Erie hotel, close at 
hand, will give you, under a modest roof, all the pure kind- 
ness and comfort of a home. 

" If you step into the nurseries and greenhouses close 
by, you will see the Gospel in fair vines or multitudinous 
flowers; while in the neighbouring wine-vaults you can 
taste from 10,000 gallons of pure wine of last year's vin- 
tage, absolutely free from any foreign or deleterious ele- 
ments. This comprises the bulk of my business at this 

place. Your old friend B resides within half a mile, 

and you will find him prompt, practical, and kindly as 
ever, busy with flocks and herds, with grape-vines and a 
public laundry, which he practically oversees. 

" Our genius, in fine, old friend, is domestic, and delights 
in quiet privacy. We eschew all notoriety. We never 
proselytise. In this world, nothing in the long-run, nothing 
tells but work. The homely actual receives and hides the 
shining ideal, as the splendours and warmth of summer 
are reborn in humble plants and springing grass. Yet 
doubtless the ideal will in time transform the actual to its 
own image. ' For now are we the sons of God, and it doth 
not yet appear what we shall be.' 

" I came in wearied from overseeing my men pressing 
hay in bales, and seeing the article in the [New York] 
'World,' sat down to express my regret at its appear- 


This modest version of the life of the prophet and his 
friends is strangely unlike the shadow of the community 
as seen through the letters of Laurence to his betrothed 
bride. The autocrat who, across the breadth of the At- 
lantic, issued his orders to marry or not to marry to his 
faithful disciple : to whom the new member was impelled 
and besought 'to write offering absolute obedience, and 
placing her property at his disposal ; the " Father" whose 
presence was a " terrible pressure, though a blessed one " 
appears in a very different guise from this benevolent 
patriarch with his flocks and herds, his vintages and his 
" friends." Yet it must be remarked that Laurence, too, 
used the same enigmatical and metaphorical expressions 
when speaking of him, asserting his own independence 
both in respect to life and money. It is difficult to recon- 
cile the two points of view it is not, indeed, I fear, pos- 
sible, except by those principles of mental reservation and 
equivocal statement which one is grieved to find in the 
utterances of honourable men. Laurence no doubt con- 
sidered himself justified by his strong conviction that the 
commands of Harris were not of himself but from God, 
and that, in the same way, the money confided to the pro- 
phet was directly in the hands of Providence. How Mr 
Harris justified to himself the discrepancy between the 
exoteric and esoteric view is another question. It must 
also be remembered that in the latter case there was some 
legal safeguard by which afterwards it was possible to re- 
claim the property, which is so much in favour of the 
external claim of independence, if it were not contradicted 
by every word and thought of the correspondence quoted 
in the previous chapter. 

We might easily form imaginary pictures of the arrival 
of the party in this practical little community, so entirely 
occupied with its vines, its corn, its flocks, its hay, and all 
the matter-of-fact work which was practically its gospel to 
the world. How helpless must the two ladies have felt, 
who knew nothing of these things, and especially the 
young and inexperienced disciple, to whom everything 
was new, and who brought the glamour of enthusiasm in 
her eyes to see a use beyond that of all her previous know- 


ledge in the homely necessities of existence, the work of 
the household, for which alone (and that so badly at first) 
she would be qualified. How they must have been in the 
way of the busy workers, how little their true gifts and 
capabilities could have been wanted, in what elementary 
labours they must at first have been employed ! I have 
heard great indignation expressed over the fact that Lady 
Oliphant washed the pocket-handkerchiefs of the settlement 
indignation in which I scarcely feel able to share. For 
that being the way of salvation, what better could the poor 
lady do ? She could not superintend the pressing of hay 
into bales, or the cultivation of the vine ; and as for Alice, 
it is impossible to imagine what she could have been good 
for at first, except for offices which any little untrained 
housemaid could have done better. They had no time to 
hear her talk, or to listen to her music ; they knew nothing 
of the books, the people, the thoughts which had occupied 
her life. Had Laurence married a devout dairymaid, it 
would have been far more to the purpose : that he should 
have brought so fair a flower of perfect civilisation and 
ladyhood among this bustling rustic community must have 
been embarrassing on all hands. To be sure, there were 
one or two English ladies there before her ; but in the case 
of each of these, no doubt, as in hers, not only was the 
first step a terrible one to themselves, but (to do justice on 
all sides) a most troublesome one to the organisers of all 
those untrained and unaccustomed candidates for work. 

It is, however, quite unnecessary to make fancy pic- 
tures of these difficulties. Lady Oliphant herself gives 
a simple record of their occupations a little later on ; 
and in the meantime it would appear from the letters of 
Laurence that he and his wife were at first permitted 
a period of holiday with little or nothing exacted from 
them. I am enabled to trace through his letters to Mr 
Blackwood something of the second beginning made by 
him of life in Brocton under his new circumstances. It 
is, however, a mistake to speak of his life in Brocton, for 
though called back there for the service of the community, 
he was not allowed to be more than an occasional visitor 
in the place where his wife and mother were established, 


He would seem to have plunged almost at once into com- 
mercial affairs in New York. The farm-labourer phase 
was over, not even a divinely inspired autocrat could 
think of putting him through that discipline again ; and 
financial operations of one kind or other would seem to 
have been the occupation determined on as most suitable 
for him operations which, as the reader will see, did 
not at all prepossess him in favour of the New York com- 
mercial world. The first letter I find is as follows. That 
it was written not very long after his arrival, is whim- 
sically indicated by the stamp on his paper of " Parkins 
and Gotto." He had not exhausted, it would appear, the 
stock brought with him. 

" BROCTON, CHAUTAUGUA, 22d Sept. [1873]. 

" I ought to have written to you before to have thanked 
you for the cheque you were so good as to send me, but I 
was in hopes of being able to enclose in my acknowledg- 
ment of your liberality another article. Somehow I have 
not been able to manage it, as my time has been so much 
cut into. I have been spending three weeks on Long 
Island, at a lovely spot about thirty miles from New 
York, and the manners and customs of the natives 
afforded material, especially as there was a camp-meeting 
and a revival going on in the immediate neighbourhood, 
where I saw a young woman perform spiritual gymnastics 
that would have beaten Marie Alacoque ; and indeed, if 
people are going to make pilgrimages to every place where 
parties are cutting what appear supernatural capers, they 
will have their hands full. All this was suggestive of a 
good deal, but I wanted quiet, as it is a subject which 
pretty soon lands one out of one's depth. Moreover, I 
was fishing, boating, bathing, and otherwise putting my 
wife and myself into robust conditions ; added to which, 
perpetual journeys down the loveliest of island waters 
into that den of gamesters New York, where I fished up 
some Wall Street experiences that may also some day be 
worked up with other phenomena, supernatural, diabolic, 
&c,, of the times. Since I was there, indeed the day I 


left, some of the scoundrels began to smash, and I trust 
they may continue to do so until not one dollar is left 
standing on another. The special occupation which my 
destiny leads me for the moment to follow is in the midst 
of these ruffians. There I have to make money, and see 
if it can be done cleanly. Meantime I have come back 
here for a breath of pure air, and I may possibly go hence 
to Canada before returning to New York. My mother 
and wife are both very well, and desire me to give their 
kindest regards to yourself and Mrs Blackwood. The 
latter is very happy, and says she finds here at Brocton 
all she came for, and enjoys the general novelty and 
brightness of American life." 

The next letter is entirely occupied with his commer- 
cial experiences : 

" The moral side of this financial crisis is most curious. 
There is scarcely an instance of a prominent fraudulent 
bankrupt who has not made a show of piety the mask 

under which he ensnared his victims. X G , for 

instance, has got an island on Lake Erie specially devoted 
as a sanatorium to invalid parsons, who are kept there 
free of expense on condition that they force his ' wild-cat ' 
railway bonds down the throats of their congregations, 
and so on in every instance. Presidents of Young Men's 
Christian Associations, founders of theological seminaries, 
Sunday-school teachers, secretaries to charitable associa- 
tions, and the leading elders of various denominations are 
among the principal defaulters. I was thinking of show- 
ing it all up in the ' Times,' but have been too busy. 
Fortunately, so far I have kept clear of the hypocrites, and 
feel comparatively safe among the professional scoundrels. 

" I read Marshall's article on France, and thought it 
excellent. I also see his book very well spoken of in the 

We have now a double thread of narrative to follow, 
and I may here trace the course of the other, which from 
this time was almost completely severed from that of 


Laurence, whose errant career led him from one place to 
another to New York, to Canada (the only occasion on 
which his wife accompanied him), and even repeatedly to 
England, as the claims of business and the orders of the 
prophet required. On one of these latter occasions he 
had been seen in London by the daughter of his old friend, 
Mr Liesching, who apparently wrote to Lady Oliphant in 
consequence. I quote her reply : 

" She must have been struck, as every one is who sees 
him, with the change his opinions have effected in Lowry, 
both spiritually and physically. He is indeed a new crea- 
ture, and lives only to serve God and humanity, having 
no desire or aim for self. He looks strong, and is so, and 
his expression shows the calm and strength within; but 
all this comes not from faith without works, but after ten 
years of hard struggle with his evils, and very hard bodily 
labours, and no small amount of suffering. As for myself, 
I can say very little, but that I am struggling on to get 
rid of my selfhood and selfishness, and the rest of that vile 
tribe of evils, having so much to undo ; but I am happy 
and thankful for the privilege of being in the only place 
where it is possible for me to be helped, and in due time, 
if I live, to help others. I am strong, and able for a fair 
amount of bodily exertion. 

" You would be surprised and amused if I could describe 
to you the ordering of my daily life. Alice (Lowry's wife) 
has been going through the ordeal, a very hard one, of 
putting off all the old and much - admired refinement, 
polish, intellectual charm, &c. Not that these things are 
wrong, on the contrary, they are most desirable, but only 
when coming through a divine source, and used for divine 
ends, instead of coming from the selfhood, and used for 
personal ends. She is very brave and true, and fights 
hard against herself. She and I lived together in a cot- 
tage for eight months, quite alone except for the help of a 
boy to do what was too hard for us, and that only about 
an hour in the day. It was our own wish : we wanted to 
realise something of the lives of our hard-working sisters 
in the world, the cooks, housemaids, &c., and to learn to 


do things for ourselves. I wish I could explain to you 
our beautiful system of Christ's religion, I know it would 
meet a ready response in your honest loving nature : we 
cooked, we washed, we ironed, I reared upwards of a 
hundred chickens, and you may believe we were busy 
enough; but the internal work was by far the hardest, 
and I succeed but poorly and slowly. Alice helps me a 
great deal. Then when winter came on we were directed 
to come to this sweet home. It is the house Mr Harris 
occupied; he has gone to California with some of our 
members: we occupy his own rooms, and are merely 
boarders; all the housework is done by others of the 
family. We work in the garden, and help to mend the 
clothes of the gentlemen of the society. But we gained 
health of mind and body in our cottage experience. All 
we aim at is to become Christ-like, to get rid of selfhood 
in every form, so that He can use us as His instruments 
in helping to redeem the world, the work He has now 
come to do for He has come, and been seen and heard of 
some, and soon all will feel His presence, for great and 
startling events are at hand." 

It is a puzzle beyond ordinary faculties to make out 
in what respects Lady Oliphant and her daughter-in-law 
could be doing more good to the world by performing 
their household work for themselves in a little cottage in 
Salem-on-Erie than by living in their natural home, either 
in England or France ; or how it was fundamentally better 
for these two accomplished women to live as boarders 
among the Brocton farmers, working in the garden, and 
mending the men's clothes, than to occupy their legitimate 
position. But this is no question for us, seeing that their 
own convictions on the matter were so absolute. 

I cannot but think, however, that the clear intelligence 
and keen perceptions of Mrs Laurence Oliphant must soon 
have taken up this point of view, or else that the other 
circumstances of her life, upon which we have no light, 
gradually became too much for her. There is no record at 
first in her case of the ordeal through which both her 
husband and his mother had to pass at the very begin- 


ning of their career at Brocton. To put off her refinement 
and polish and intellectual charm, though extraordinarily 
difficult things to do, were not enough to balance the more 
practical and sensible tests to which the others were put ; 
and it may be perhaps that the ordeal was postponed in 
her case only to be made more tremendous. Or I think 
it very possible that Harris himself may have been con- 
fused by the two extraordinary captives he had taken all 
unawares in his net, and foresaw and feared the conse- 
quences of leaving them there together to quicken each 
other's wits and powers of observation, and perhaps to 
discover with too much clearness of vision what was lack- 
ing and what was ludicrous in the economy around them. 
As iron sharpeneth iron, so were these two likely to act 
upon each other, perhaps to a consciousness of the wonder- 
ful character of their subjection, perhaps to independent 
plans of their own, both of which would have weakened 
the master's hold upon them, and made their emancipation 
merely a question of time. 

Which of these varying reasons was the cause of the 
next step in this strange history it is impossible to tell. 
It is evident, however, that the separation of the husband 
and wife virtually took place before the departure of Alice 
from Brocton. It is comprehensible enough why Laurence 
should have been kept in perpetual motion, now here, now 
there, continually on the road. Having once entered into 
the cares of business, no doubt the exigencies of his new 
life forced him away from the quiet of the community in 
which his mother and wife lived in humility and apparent 
content. And as he was probably the most profitable of 
all the workers under the orders of the prophet, he was 
kept very fully occupied, and not encouraged to return too 
often to that quiet and seclusion. Brocton by this time, 
as has been seen, was no longer the place of Mr Harris's 
residence, though still completely under his sway. He had 
gone to California, and settled himself in a new establish- 
ment, Santa Eosa, not far from San Francisco, where he 
cultivated vines, and swayed the souls who had committed 
themselves into his hands, with an authority and minute 
direction as absolute as ever. For what alleged reason 


Alice was ordered to proceed to this new settlement I am 
unable to tell. She was so commanded, and with the 
unhesitating obedience to which she had pledged herself, 
arose and went, to fulfil the objects of the Use in that 
distant place. No part of the career of the Oliphants has 
been the cause of more question than this; but it was 
in no point more extraordinary, at least in the beginning, 
than the rest of their life under the sway of their prophet. 
We have already seen that he thought mutual affection, 
when merely natural, injurious. Accordingly he sent out 
the husband to work hard for the community in one direc- 
tion, and called the wife to another sphere altogether out 
of her husband's reach except at the cost of a long journey. 
The mother, who had so rejoiced in the marriage, and who 
had written to her friend in England of her happiness in 
the cottage where they lived together, and where in spirit- 
ual matters as well as physical " Alice helps me so much," 
was left to wash the pocket-handkerchiefs and mend the 
clothes alone. 

In the meantime Laurence, after his initiation into 
business matters among the bulls and bears of New York, 
took a more important piece of business in hand in the 
beginning of the year 1874, when he joined the new Cable 
Company, then anxiously contriving the means of estab- 
lishing a new telegraphic service. He informs Mr Black- 
wood that he has just returned from Canada, where " we 
have been paying a visit to the Dufferins," in company 
with his wife so that it is clear her exile to California 
had not as yet taken place. 

" I am coaching a bill through the Dominion Legislature, 
which has for its object the extinction of the existing 
cable monopoly. My time has been so abundantly occupied 
in making preparations for the new cable which is to be 
laid this summer, and looking after the interests of the 
company, that I have sought in vain for some spare mo- 
ments to write an article for ' Maga.' I have not been able 
even to fulfil my promise to Delane, and write a few col- 
umns for the ' Times,' though I have had material enough ; 
but I find that when my attention is so fully taken up with 


affairs of which I had no previous experience, and which 
so completely divert my thoughts from their old wonted 
channels, I cannot get suddenly into the literary groove 
again. But, though rather late in life, I am learning bus- 
iness in a school which, as they say, requires one to keep 
one's 'eyes skinned,' and if you should want any sharp 
Wall Street practice exposed or moral detective work 
done, I am qualifying myself rapidly for the occupation. 
All the mysteries of ' Kings,' the fraudulent manipulation 
of stock, &c., are becoming familiar to me. I am at this 
moment making four contracts with four separate com- 
panies, all managed by not to put too fine a point upon 
it swindlers ; at least according to my former unsophis- 
ticated mind I should so have considered them : they are 
only called smart here. My only weapon is a guileless 
innocence, which disconcerts them, as they don't know 
whether I am precious deep or precious flat, as Mr Chuck- 
ster would say." 

The next letter is dated formally from the office of his 
new undertaking : 

5th November 1875. 

"You will see from the aspect of this sheet what an 
entirely new place I have broken out in. The manner in 
which I administer the affairs of a Cable Company, and 
exercise an autocratic control over an army of clerks and 
operators, is the marvel of myself and the admiration of 
the swindlers among whom I have the honour to reside. 
It is a long time since we have exchanged notes. I gave 
up attempting to get 'Piccadilly' republished here, con- 
cerning which I wrote to you last. My object in writing 
is to tell you that herewith I forward a copy of a New 
York paper, which, though mean and contemptible in 
aspect, has a circulation of over 200,000, and pays $25 
a-column for my humble contributions, one of which the 
accompanying contains. As it is a review of that ad- 
mirable book of Wilson's, ' The Abode of Snow,' I thought 



you might like to see it. I have to finish this in a hurry, 
as an overwhelming rush of business has come in upon me 
while I am writing. How did the cheap edition of ' Pic- 
cadilly ' go off?" 

His occupation with the concerns of the Cable Com- 
pany lasted for some time. It would be foolish to take 
his sweeping condemnation of the financialists of New 
York au pied de la lettre, though no doubt his indignation 
and righteous wrath against the sharp practice to which 
he found himself exposed was very warm and genuine. 
But he was altogether a pessimist in respect to society, 
though the most hopeful of visionaries in other ways. I 
have been told an anecdote on this subject by a friend to 
whom he himself told it, which is not only very charac- 
teristic of him, but throws a gleam of softer light upon 
the men among whom he was struggling. One of the 
chief persons with whom he had to do was the well-known 
Jay Gould, a financier of much greater force than the 
new adventurer in such unaccustomed fields, and against 
whose overwhelming cleverness Laurence had been warned 
by his friends. In the exercise of that " innocence " to 
which he refers, which puzzled the gentlemen of Wall 
Street, he went direct to this high potentate with the 
engaging frankness which is one of the most polished 
instruments of diplomacy, being nothing but the bare 
truth. " I do not think," he said, " that your interests and 
those of my clients are opposed to each other ; but it is 
needless to say that I am not your equal in the conduct 
of affairs, and if you mean to crush me, you can." The 
result of this address was that Jay Gould understood and 
appreciated the appeal of the honest man, and during the 
ensuing negotiations treated his unlikely opponent with 
perfect good faith and honour. 

These unaccustomed business operations, and the work 
and strange company into which they led him, had closed 
the mouth of Laurence during the three years which 
followed his return to America. Except in the news- 
paper which looked so shabby, yet paid twenty-five dollars 
a-column to its contributors, we hear of nothing from his 


pen until in May 1876 we find him in England, writing 
from the Athenaeum to his publisher at Edinburgh, with 
the MS. of an article afterwards published in ' Blackwood's 
Magazine ' as " The Autobiography of a Joint-Stock Com- 
pany." This daring and pungent piece of satire, which 
portrays the conception, growth, prosperity, and ruin of 
one of the many commercial ventures of the age, the 
shameless swindling of its promoters, the blind confidence 
of its victims, the lesser and competing frauds that gathered 
round it, was produced, I have been told, under the stimu- 
lus of sudden wrath and indignation consequent on the 
discovery of certain proceedings affecting his own imme- 
diate object. The story is altogether a perfect romance of 

He had spent the evening in the house of a lady very 
closely connected with him, in whom he had perfect con- 
fidence, and to whom he recorded in wild excitement the 
discovery of fraud which he had made. He talked until 
the small hours of the morning, no doubt still further 
feeding the fire of his indignation. Next day was Sunday, 
and the same lady, on her return from church, called at 
his lodgings to know if he was coming to lunch with her. 
She found him in his dressing-gown, standing before a 
table on which his hat-box answered the purpose of a 
desk, the floor all round him strewed with leaves of paper 
which he threw down as he finished them. There he 
had stood all the morning through, unconscious of the 
passage of the hours, pouring forth his fiery indignation 
and scathing satire, red-hot, with a lurid energy which 
comes only when the pen is inspired with strong feeling. 
My informant tells me that the paper completed was 
posted that same day. He told her afterwards, laughing, 
that the publisher had sent him a cheque for sixty pounds 
for the morning's work. Certainly an article more instinct 
with righteous wrath and the vivid life of just indignation 
was never written. " The facts," he says in an accompany- 
ing letter, " were all given me by C., who is certainly a 
joint producer ; but we neither of us wish our names men- 
tioned." The lady from whom I have this interesting de- 
scription considers the date to have been later than that 


given above, and as I have already said, it is very difficult 
to decipher the chronology of a number of letters dated 
only by months. Certainly it was at a considerably later 
period that the article appeared. 

The excitement of the struggles of business life roused 
all his faculties, and I have always heard that his capacity 
was great in financial matters. No doubt, too, a man so 
formed for activity of mental life enjoyed more or less the 
keen conflict of wits, more tremendous than any conflict 
of literature, in which each man has to keep his eye upon 
the other, lest he should be overreached and checkmated. 
But I do not think that Laurence entered upon any further 
commercial or speculative enterprise on so large a scale as 
the Cable Company. His experience in that did not tempt 
him to further exertions. 

The story of the Joint-Stock Company did not appear 
for some time. And it was soon followed to Edinburgh 
by the witty and amusing " Recollections of Irene Mac- 
gillicuddy," in which, for the first time, the satirist had 
his fling at American society, with all the brilliancy and 
force of ' Piccadilly ' and the freshness of a new scene. 
The sketch of Dollie, already referred to, was trenchant 
and whimsical enough ; but the withers of New York were 
unwrung by that dashing stroke at the economy of a lower 
and altogether rural region. When, however, the New 
York belle appeared for the first time upon an English 
canvas, the effect was overwhelming. We have had many 
opportunities of making the acquaintance of that wonder- 
ful young person since. Her own native illustrator has 
taken in hand to expound her many vagaries and charms, 
and the manners and habits of the other beings of her 
species, which, moreover, have undergone many modifica- 
tions, not perhaps wholly unconnected with those efforts 
of literature to hold the mirror up -to nature. But Irene 
was entirely new to the world when Laurence called her 
before us. It was the beginning of the American girl's 
rage for aristocratic marriages a taste which has grown 
so much since that day; and this curious sketch of 
manners, altogether new and wonderful, was made all the 
more striking by the introduction of the English young 


man of fashion, more or less bewildered by his new sur- 
roundings, who had suddenly become the natural prey of 
the fair American. But Irene needed no languid swell 
behind her to enhance her originality. In her first revela- 
tion, with all her beauty and charm and " go," her sup- 
pressed and half-conscious vulgarities, her naive ambitions, 
her high-handed dealings with her parents, and unbroken 
conviction that the world was made for her, she was too 
new to be otherwise than delightful. The highly moral 
conclusion of the story, in which the disappointed beauty 
falls in love and marries disinterestedly, to the amazement 
of all around, is the only part of it which at all palled 
upon the reader. Even then the young lady was amusing, 
but in her unregenerate state she was sublime. 

If, however, she was received with much jubilation and 
laughter in England, the effect upon society in New York 
was more remarkable still. The American reader identi- 
fied the different characters of the story with that unhesi- 
tating certainty on which a local critic plumes himself, 
and ladies who had received the English satirist into their 
houses made the welkin ring with their cries. No harm 
was done, however, nor any special resentment roused. 
I have been told that one lady was overwhelmed with 
astonishment by the scene at Niagara where a declaration 
is made in the midst of the roar of the Falls ; and declared 
indignantly that no one but herself and one other knew of 
this astonishing scene to the great amusement of the 
writer, who had invented it in one of the wildest freaks 
of his fancy. This amusing production is the subject of 
Laurence's next letter to his publisher : 

" BROCTON, March 25, 1878. 

" The story has been republished in various forms in 
this country. Harpers have republished it in their Half 
Hour Series, for which they gave me 10 ; but have not 
had the grace to send me a copy, though I asked them to 
do so, intending to send you one. I have not even seen 
it. It has also been republished in a 15-cent form; but 
I have not been following its fortunes much, or heard 


much of the criticism regarding it, as I have again gone 
into my retirement and given up the various occupations 
which kept me at New York. I am glad to give up the 
society of swindlers for that of sheep for a little. I have 
seen no newspapers for a couple of months, and do not 
therefore know anything which has heen transpiring in 
Europe ; but iny impression is that the Eusso - Turkish 
treaty will form a bone of contention over which all 
Europe will yet quarrel. Perhaps when that time comes 
I may pay Europe a visit ; in the meantime, I shall re- 
main quietly here." 

He adds, " My mother and wife are both well," without 
any betrayal of the fact that his wife was far away from 
him ; but the reader will not fail to perceive the tone of 
depression in this letter. He had but just returned from 
an expedition to California, the object of which, I believe, 
was to bring her back if possible ; but in this he was un- 
successful, and there is something pathetic in the " society 
of sheep," to which he had returned sorely discouraged, 
and with many strange thoughts, one may imagine, surg- 
ing up in his heart. 

An account of the issue of this journey, and of the 
events subsequent to it which took place in the same 
neighbourhood, which I owe to the courtesy of Mr J. D. 
Walker, formerly of San Francisco, one of the most de- 
voted and generous of Laurence Oliphant's friends, opens 
up suddenly an entirely new scene. The friendship be- 
tween Laurence and Mr and Mrs Walker began in a char- 
acteristic manner. Mrs Walker, on her way to England 
with her children some years previously, travelling alone 
and in delicate health, was detained in New York for a short 
time by illness before embarking, and met Laurence there 
at a friend's house. He himself was also on his way to Eng- 
land, and hearing that the lady he had met was somewhat 
faint-hearted about the voyage the first she had made 
without her husband and generally in need of support 
and sympathy, he took his passage in the same ship, delay- 
ing his journey, I believe, in order that she might have 
the help of a friend on board. Thus he knitted to himself 


with hooks of steel, or rather with bonds of kindness, the 
pair who recompensed this spontaneous act of good feeling 
with the most faithful friendship and kindness for all the 
rest of his life. Some time in the beginning of the year 
1878, Mr Walker found Laurence in his office in San 
Francisco waiting for him. He had come to see Mr 
Harris in his establishment at Santa Rosa ; and though 
he did not inform his friend what was the special object 
of his visit, he accompanied Mr Walker to his hospitable 
house at San Eafael to await the issue of his negotiations 
with the head of the community. There he waited for 
some weeks, at first cheerful enough, probably unable to 
believe in the possibility of so rational and natural a 
demand as that to see his own wife being refused him. 
It was, however, refused : and he was ordered to return 
at once to Brocton, which he did in great depression and 
misery but ever-obedient faith. It may be supposed with 
what feelings the pair of friends, who did not yet know 
Alice, looked on and witnessed this inconceivable frustra- 
tion of all the laws of nature. 

Some time after, probably in the autumn of the same 
year, Laurence wrote to Mr Walker to tell him that his 
wife had left Santa Rosa, and was in need of friendly suc- 
cour and help. She had gone out from the prophet's house 
without money, without introductions or friends, alone, to 
earn her own bread, whether by his command sent out, 
as it was his wont to send forth those members of his 
community who were capable of earning money, to labour 
on its behalf or whether by her own impulse, I cannot 
tell. It was her wont to attribute this strange step en- 
tirely to her own will ; but, as has been seen, it was one 
of the understood duties of members of the community to 
take upon themselves the entire responsibility of any step 
which offended public opinion. She had gone to a place 
called Vallejo, where she was living in a poor lodging and 
taking such pupils as could be got there the children of 
miners and other uneducated persons in the humblest 
form of educational effort possible, though what she did 
teach was chiefly what might be called accomplishments, 
music, drawing, &c. She used to say afterwards, when 


talking, as she did freely, about the experiences of this 
period, that the confidence of the humblest parents in their 
own future and fortune the rudest among them enter- 
taining no doubt that their children would occupy so much 
better a position than themselves as to make these ac- 
complishments suitable and necessary was amazing ; and 
that the cost of such lessons was paid ungrudgingly by 
fathers and mothers who were themselves without the 
merest rudiments of education. Her reason for the step 
thus taken she always stated, as Lady Oliphant did the 
reason for their domestic work to be her desire not only 
to share the experiences of other women who work for 
their living, but to prove to the faint-hearted that work 
could be found and a living earned without the forfeiture 
either of self-respect or cheerfulness. In short, that she 
had gone out, in the purest quixotism, divesting herself of 
all advantages save those inalienable and belonging to her 
very being (a most large exception), in order that other 
women, driven by necessity to the same course, should 
know that the thing could be done. This was her own 
explanation always to the world of the mystery of her 
proceedings. In a world so strange as theirs, it is possible 
enough that any fantastic reason might suffice for any act 
of self-devotion, especially if it was the will of the master 
that such and such things should be done. It is possible 
also that, though late, this was the ordeal through which 
every member of the community had to pass to prove 
their utter sincerity. At all events, it was no breaking 
away from the rule and obedience of Harris, but done in 
full allegiance and dependence upon his will. 

The friends to whom Laurence appealed to stand by 
his wife in her solitary and laborious career immediately 
responded to the call ; and Mrs Walker went at once to 
Vallejo, where she found Alice cheerfully installed, doing 
everything for herself such a thing as a maid being, of 
course, out of the question for a poor teacher among the 
poor inhabitants of the Californian village. That she was 
already surrounded by humble friends and warm affection 
it is almost needless to say, for these sprang up like flowers 
wherever her foot fell. Far the most touching among the 


many letters of condolence and sympathy addressed to 
Laurence after her death came from humble women in 
this place, with little grammar but loving hearts, to whom 
her recollection was as that of an angel who had passed 
among them, leaving life itself more noble and beautiful 
ever after. The visitor from San Eafael passed a night at 
Vallejo in this humble lodging, shared the meals cooked 
by Alice's own hands after her teaching was over, and, it 
is unnecessary to add, gave her heart at once to the en- 
chantress. Henceforward the exile had a home open to 
her, full of all luxuries, and especially those of affection 
and tenderness ; and was beguiled to San Eafael for her 
holidays, and watched over when her delicate strength was 
breaking down. It was proposed that she should remove 
thither permanently, so as to be near her friends, and also 
to have a chance of pupils of a more congenial type ; and 
Mrs Walker remembers looking at various houses in her 
own neighbourhood with the intention of finding one that 
would do for a school a more ambitious undertaking. 
While considering this plan, Alice went to the house of 
Mrs Lynch at Benicia, who had a school of a similar 
character to the one projected, in order to receive informa- 
tion on the subject, and details and advice as to its manage- 
ment. But once again that power of fascination, which 
she had confessed with so much simplicity to be one of 
the hindrances to her religious career, came into operation, 
and the new friends who had kindly undertaken to give 
her advice as to setting up a school of her own, ended by 
imploring her, at the end of a very short visit, to stay and 
work with them. She accepted this offer, and remained 
there accordingly in a less isolated position during the 
rest of her stay in California. 

But I think her heart was most in the humble solitude 
of her first outset, alone and independent, in the world. 
She too loved the sensation of adventure, the launch into 
the unknown, the primitive manners and thoughts of the 
uninstructed people among whom she found herself. She 
loved to speak of them, their curious sparks of refinement 
amid the rough, their faith in themselves and the future, 
and the perceptions of higher things that were strongly 


visible among them. I recollect her saying a curious 
and striking piece of observation (I do not know if it has 
been confirmed by any other intelligent observer) that a 
Californian audience enjoyed an opera, that highly sophis- 
ticated and recondite work of art, with a sensitive excite- 
ment and perception more like those of a Parisian audience 
than anything she had seen. She remained in the school 
at Benicia, teaching and shedding sweet influences round 
her, till she returned to England. And it was on the oc- 
casion of one of her visits to Mrs Walker at San Eafael 
that she painted a portrait of herself a very real and 
affecting likeness of her expressive and charming coun- 
tenance which was an inexpressible pleasure to her 
husband in later days, and is the much- prized posses- 
sion of the friends who added so much brightness to 
this period of her life, and who cherish and love her 

Whether it was that so strong a step as the complete 
severance of a married pair in this way was found at 
length to try the faith of the community in general, and 
to require an equally strong explanation, I am not able to 
say ; but at all events it would seem to have been an idea 
propounded at this time that the marriage, which the 
community had at first so strenuously opposed, to which it 
had reluctantly assented, and which it had done every- 
thing in its power to nullify by continual humiliation of 
the " refinement and intellectual charm " of Alice, and a 
continuous succession of distant undertakings to Laurence 
was not a true marriage of " counterparts " at all, and 
therefore could have no reality or sacredness. Perhaps 
this had been the first cause of her departure from 
Brocton, underlying all the other motives. It was, I think, 
in the autumn of 1880, when he was for some time in 
London, where I too was living, and had thus more oppor- 
tunities of seeing him than usual, that Laurence confided 
to myself this extraordinary discovery. I remember with 
great distinctness the humble drawing-room in Victoria 
Square, that curious little haven of quiet in the midst of 
the noise of town, where on a wintry afternoon my delight- 
ful visitor communicated the strange fact, not only that 


his wife was not his counterpart, but that it had been dis- 
covered that he had a counterpart "on the other side" that 
is, already passed into the unseen state of whose communi- 
cations he had been for some time increasingly conscious, 
and who had inspired him with certain revelations in verse 
which he asked leave to read to me. To see him produce 
these rhymed effusions, and read them with the strangest 
boyish pleasure and shyness, astonished at their cleverness, 
and pausing from time to time to assure me that of himself 
he could not produce a rhyme to save his life, was the most 
astonishing experience. If the reader should exclaim, as 
many have done, that this was sheer madness, I can only 
reply that a more sane person never existed, and that the 
verses in question, strange and bald as they were, and most 
unlike anything sent from heaven, were nevertheless as lucid 
as they were daring, and conveyed a trenchant attack upon 
social evils of all kinds, in something more like doggerel 
than poetry, but with much method and meaning, though 
little beauty. It is a difficult thing at any time for an 
unwilling critic to sit in judgment upon the productions 
of an author, read by himself ; and the wonder with 
which one could not but contemplate this brilliant writer, 
a master of vigorous English in his own style and person, 
smiling and blushing over the inspired rigmarole of verse 
which it was his boast was not his, but something far finer 
than he could ever have produced by himself, was well- 
nigh stupefying. I must not avoid the confession of this 
strange lapse into foolishness which the extraordinary 
strain of faculty and possibility at this exceedingly trying 
period of his life betrayed him into. It is the only sign 
of mental aberration which I ever saw in him, the sole 
evidence I have ever been able to make out of that touch 
of questionable sanity which is supposed by many people 
to explain the secrets of his life. These things are very 
bewildering ; but his absolute good faith was unquestion- 
able, and it is almost needless to say that a mind more 
capable of discriminating sense from nonsense was not to 
be found in England. He was no critic, however, as has 
been seen in the earlier records of his life, and had accepted 
as divine poetry ' The Great Republic ' and other produc- 


tions of Mr Harris, so that his admiration of his own 
rhymes and wonder at them was less remarkable. 

This, however, is an anticipation. In the meantime 
Laurence had still some vague years to go through of 
which there is little record. He roamed about America, 
and made one or two expeditions across the Atlantic, 
and was always full of occupation. His sole literary 
performances, however, were " Irene," published in 1877, 
of which he tells some amusing anecdotes, and "The 
Autobiography of a Joint -Stock Company," already re- 
ferred to. I can scarcely tell whether it was to this 
latter production he refers when he says, " ' Irene ' made 
such a row in New York, and they are so sensitive, 
that I hardly like to publish it, if I am to mix much 
in the society there, as it will make it too hot." " Irene " 
was the cause, however, of another amusing incident. 

"Dec. 10, 1878. 

" When ' Irene ' came out and made a sensation in New 
York, the authorship puzzled people so much that a man 
claimed to be the author, and proceeded to write a con- 
tinuation as such. Now that the authorship is known, 
he is in a fix, as his continuation is coming out. The 
claims of J. H. appeared in the American papers this 
spring [1878], and were indignantly contradicted by 
Hurlbert in the ' World,' who knew the real authorship. 
He was replied to by J. H., who insisted, and Hurlbert 
threatened to prove the fraud to Carleton & Co., who are 
his publishers, and who, knowing the circumstances, con- 
tinue to be so." 

It will be remembered that a similar incident occurred 
in respect to the ' Scenes of Clerical Life ' of George Eliot, 
and that the impostor in that case stood his ground for 
some time with extraordinary impudence. It is in the 
letter on this subject, above quoted, and which was written 
from the familiar ground of the Athenaeum, that the first 
intimation is given, suddenly and without preface, of a 
new and remarkable project which influenced more or less 
all the after-portion of Oliphant's life, and which seems at 


first to have been taken up as a speculation, with some 
curious contagion from the atmosphere in which he had 
been living. He states it first upon this ground, with a 
somewhat cynical reference to the higher religio-romantic 
motives, which would give it popularity, he imagined, and 
secure its pecuniary success. 

"My Eastern project is as follows: To obtain a con- 
cession from the Turkish Government in the northern 
and more fertile half of Palestine, which the recent survey 
of the Palestine Exploration Fund proves to be capable 
of immense development. Any amount of money can be 
raised upon it, owing to the belief which people have 
that they would be fulfilling prophecy and bringing on 
the end of the world. I don't know why they are so 
anxious for this latter event, but it makes the commercial 
speculation easy, as it is a combination of the financial 
and sentimental elements which will, I think, ensure 
success. And it will be a good political move for the 
Government, as it will enable them to carry out reforms 
in Asiatic Turkey, provide money for the Porte, and 
by uniting the French in it, and possibly the Italians, 
be a powerful religious move against the Russians, who 
are trying to obtain a hold of the country by their 
pilgrims. It would also secure the Government a large 
religious support in this country, as even the Radicals 
would waive their political in favour of their religious 
crotchets. I also anticipate a very good subscription 
in America. I shall probably start about the end of 
the year for Egypt, as I want to look into the working 
of the mixed jurisdiction, and then go to Cyprus, Syria, 
Palestine, and Constantinople. I suppose I shall find 
plenty to write about, but I do not want it all talked 
of, though I find it difficult to keep it quiet. Both Lord 
Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury are very favourable to 
my scheme." 

" I am in close correspondence with Conder," l he adds 
in another letter, "and have had a talk with him in 
1 Capt. Conder, R.E., one of the latest explorers of the Holy Land. 


London. He takes a lively interest in the scheme. He 
wrote some papers in the ' Jewish Chronicle,' and though 
there is nothing brilliant in his style, it is simple and 
straightforward, and conveys a great deal of interesting 
information about a country which always excites much 
interest, and of which he is better qualified to speak than 
almost any one." 

The wonderful new project thus begun bears in its first 
disclosure a whimsical and ludicrous likeness to Laurence's 
own account of the Joint-Stock Company. He was him- 
self the Promoter, setting out to procure his concession ; 
feeling all the great possibilities in his scheme, which 
almost went to his head in the first conception ; putting 
the profit to be secured in the foreground, as if that was 
what tempted him most, though, as a matter of fact, no 
single shilling ever came into his pocket from the scheme, 
which, on the contrary, involved him in many and con- 
siderable expenses ; feeling also the innumerable other 
good things that would come out of it, the restoration to 
the uses of humanity of a desert land which was over- 
flowing with fertility and possible wealth, if there were 
but hands to till and plough ; the opening to a persecuted 
race of a refuge from their oppressions and troubles ; 
the help to civilisation and human progress, to good 
government and justice and peace, that were in it. All 
these kinds of profit were involved, and made him elo- 
quent. They are repeated over and over again in the 
continually revised and corrected copies of his prospectus, 
his petition to the Sultan, his explanations of the same, 
and a crowd of documents all bearing, on this question. 
He did not pretend that any desire to fulfil prophecy was 
at the bottom of the scheme, and had not, so far as I am 
aware, any enthusiasm for the Jews. I cannot indeed 
trace the first suggestion of the project, or anything of 
its development until it suddenly leaps forth upon us full 
blown. But he was at this period, as it is happily described 
in familiar slang, " at a loose end." He had, I imagine, 
retired from his previous mercantile ventures in no great 
mood for entering upon others of a similar description. 


He was greatly shaken and nonplussed in his private life, 
separated from his wife not only by the arbitrary division 
of distance and different work to do, but by the insinuated 
belief I have referred to, that they had never been true 
spouses, nor partners intended by heaven for each other ; 
and moved, I can scarcely doubt, by the first difficulties 
in his absolute faith, the " little rift within the lute," 
which had hitherto given forth nothing but the harmony 
of perfect assent. Disgusted with ordinary business, 
shaken in the allegiance which for years had been the 
rule of his life, plunged into strange possibilities of 
spiritual union with an unknown partner, and the ache 
of severance from her whom he had loved and chosen, 
there was perhaps no part of his life in which his mind 
was less sure and at peace. The scheme about the Jews 
gave him at once the liveliest personal interest, the pleas- 
ure of a sort of amateur diplomatic negotiation involving 
the largest issues, and the mixture of adventure and use, 
which was at all times the thing he liked best in life. 
He was thoroughly convinced of the large human advan- 
tage of his scheme. I am inclined to believe, moreover, 
that he had really more interest than he gave himself 
credit for even in the religious view of the question. 

He left London for the East early in the spring of the 
year 1879, and went direct to Beyrout, from which place 
he set out on an adventurous journey into the unexplored 
wilds, traversing, with a single companion and two or 
three attendants, countries much less known and more 
dangerous than those which ordinary travellers then ven- 
tured upon under charge of a military escort, and with 
an elaborate retinue of camp and camp-followers. The 
account of this journey will be found in full in the 
volume published next year (and first in fragments in 
' Blackwood's Magazine '), called ' The Land of Gilead,' 
an exceedingly interesting account of much that was per- 
fectly novel to the English mind. The result of his in- 
vestigations was the choice of a district east of Jordan, 
at the upper end of the Dead Sea, partly lying in the 
deep valley of the sacred river, far below the level of the 
ocean the most fertile part of Palestine, and just under 


those wonderful blue hills of Moab, which close the hor- 
izon with a line of heights more splendid in colour than 
perhaps any range of mountains in the world. I need 
not attempt to follow independently the route which Lau- 
rence himself has so admirably described. The sudden 
plunge into travel and adventure, after long cessation and 
employment among things of more immediate interest than 
Arab sheikhs and Bedouin encampments, has a curious 
effect upon the reader, so sudden is it, and unlike the cir- 
cumstances through which we have just followed him. 
The great object of the expedition was to discover and 
select the most suitable ground for the proposed colony, 
and that was found without difficulty. I may add, how- 
ever, the description of this wonderful district. 

" Perhaps the difference in the luxuriance of the vege- 
tation between Eastern and Western Palestine is brought 
into the most striking contrast on the Dead Sea itself. 
Nothing can be more barren or uninviting than the 
rugged waterless mountains on its western shore, while 
the wadies opposite teem with an almost tropical vege- 
tation. Here are palms in profusion, and jungles of 
terebinths, wild almond and fig trees, poplars, willows, 
hawthorn, and oleanders covering the steep hillsides and 
fringing the streams of such picturesque ravines as those 
in which are situated the fountains of Callirrhoe and 
the wells of Moses. In the spring especially, these glens, 
adorned with a rich semi-tropical flora, are in their full 
beauty. There can be little doubt that the celebrated 
healing qualities of the hot springs of Callirrhoe, and the 
romantic scenery by which they are surrounded, would 
render them a popular resort for tourists and health- 
seekers, if ever this country should be reclaimed, and 
proper accommodation for travellers and visitors was 
provided. Included within the territory which I should 
propose for colonisation would be the Ghor Seisaban, or 
plains of Shittim, which Canon Tristram describes as ' by 
far the most extensive and luxuriant of any of the fertile 
lands bordering on the Dead Sea.' ' This abundantly 
watered and tree-covered district,' he continues, ' extends 


six miles from east to west, and ten or twelve from north 
to south. I crossed it myself at its northern extremity, 
and rode through an extensive tract of young wheat-fields, 
cultivated by the Adwan.' . . . 

"Ascending from the fervid subtropical valley of the 
Jordan, we gradually, before reaching the plains of Moab 
and highlands of Gilead, pass through another zone of 
vegetation, until we finally attain an elevation of about 
4000 feet above the level of the sea, and more than 5000 
feet above the Ghor Seisaban; but the difference in feet 
does not really convey an adequate notion of the difference 
in climate, owing to the peculiar conditions of the Jordan 
valley, which, being depressed below the level of the sea, 
produces a contrast in vegetation with the mountains of 
Gilead corresponding rather to a difference of 10,000 feet 
than of only half that elevation. The consequence is, that 
in no part of the world could so great a variety of agricul- 
tural produce be obtained compressed within so limited 
a space. The valley of the Jordan would act as an enor- 
mous hothouse for the new colony. Here might be culti- 
vated palms, cotton, indigo, sugar, rice, sorghum, besides 
bananas, pine-apples, yams, sweet potatoes, and other field 
and garden produce. Eising a little higher, the country is 
adapted to tobacco, maize, castor-oil, millet, flax, sesamum, 
melons, gourds, cumin, coriander, anise, ochra, brinjals, 
pomegranates, oranges, figs, and so up to the plains, 
where wheat, barley, beans and lentils of various sorts, 
with olives and vines, would form the staple products. 
Gilead especially is essentially a country of wine and oil ; 
it is also admirably adapted to silk-culture ; while among 
its forests, carob or locust-bean, pistachio, jujube, almond, 
balsam, kali, and other profitable trees grow wild in great 
profusion. All the fruits of Southern Europe, such as 
apricots, peaches, and plums, here grow to perfection ; 
apples, pears, quinces, thrive well on the more extreme 
elevation, upon which the fruits and vegetables of Eng- 
land might be cultivated, while the quick - growing 
Eucalyptus could be planted with advantage on the fertile 
but treeless plains. Not only does the extraordinary 
variety of soil and climate thus compressed into a small 



area offer exceptional advantages from an agricultural 
point of view, but the inclusion of the Dead Sea within 
its limits would furnish a vast source of wealth, by the 
exploitation of its chemical and mineral deposits. The 
supply of chlorate of potassium, 200,000 tons of which 
are annually consumed in England, is practically inex- 
haustible; while petroleum, bitumen, and other lignites 
can be procured in great quantities upon its shores. 
There can be little doubt, in fact, that the Dead Sea is 
a mine of unexplored wealth, which only needs the ap- 
plication of capital and enterprise to make it a most 
lucrative property." 

Whether the Promoter meant to line the shores of the 
Dead Sea with tall chimneys of chemical works, is a ques- 
tion which will probably make the reader shudder; but 
the picture he thus gives of untold wealth for the gather- 
ing, enhanced by the presence of a peaceful and docile 
population to act as labourers for the Jew colonists were 
rather, it appears, expected to be farmers and overseers 
than absolute agricultural workmen was enough to make 
the mouths of many capitalists water, to say nothing of 
other motives. When he had thus made sure of his sphere 
of labour, and reckoned up all its advantages, Laurence 
returned to Constantinople as a suitor at the Court of the 
Sultan, to procure the concession which was the first step, 
at least he supposed it to be the first step. I have 
since heard it said by persons well qualified to form an 
opinion, that had he first secured possession of it by 
private arrangement, and sought his concession after- 
wards, he would have been more likely to be successful ; 
but that was not among the methods that commended 
themselves to his mind. And he was strongly of opinion 
that nothing could be of more advantage to Turkey than 
the "development of a single province, however small, 
under conditions which should increase the revenue of 
the empire, add to its population and resources, secure 
protection of life and property, and enlist the sympathy 
of Europe without in any way affecting the sovereign 
rights of the Sultan." 


At the same time, he had the anxious assent of the 
Jewish community to his design. From among the Jews 
in Roumania, and other persecuted districts in which he 
intended to find his colonists, there was an immediate 
response. A society was even formed among these suffer- 
ing people to buy land for themselves, and make their 
own way in the Land of Promise. " Every one of the 
members is experienced in the work of cultivating the 
soil, and it is our intention to journey to Palestine to till 
the ground and to guard it," they said. Thus armed with 
all necessary preliminaries his place chosen, his colonists 
secured, and furnished in his own person, if not with 
official warrants, yet with strong letters of recommenda- 
tion from the Foreign Office Laurence set about the 
work of diplomacy. It was the last step, and did not 
seem at all the most important; and when he first pre- 
sented himself before the Ministers of the Sultan, it was 
with every hope of speedy success. The following letter, 
though without date, must have been written soon after 
his arrival in Constantinople. He sends to Mr Black- 
wood a description of several of the articles which were 
afterwards to form part of ' The Land of Gilead,' and 
which were chiefly occupied by 

" My explorations to the east of the Jordan, where I have 
visited parts very little known, and which will give some 
account of a province for which, I think, there is an im- 
mediate and most interesting future in store that is, if 
I succeed in what I am about. So far everything has 
turned out beyond my most sanguine expectations ; but I 
am at this moment at a standstill, not in consequence of 
any opposition which I have met with on the part of the 
Government, but because of the dire chaos and confusion 
which for the last fortnight has reigned in the Cabinet, 
and which has culminated in the Egyptian question. 
That, I hope, is now over ; but the tenure of the Grand 
Vizier is so insecure that all arrangements made with 
him may at any moment be wiped out by his fall. . I am 
afraid the empire is doomed : it is only a question of time. 
This last war has given it such a severe shock that it 


cannot right itself. It is like a ship on its beam-ends, 
and the rats are beginning to find it out, while traitors 
are boring holes in the bottom. Still, if I can carry my 
scheme before it goes, its future success does not depend 
upon the present state of things lasting here. 

" I do not think of bringing ' The Land of Gilead ' out 
in the Magazine, as I want it to come out at a particular 
moment to chime in with events ; but the three articles 
which I now propose sending might be added to it, as 
they treat more or less of the same country. I am de- 
lightfully established on the shores of the Bosphorus, and 
am likely to be detained here for some time." 

The next letter is dated from Therapia, the " delightful 
establishment on the shores of the Bosphorus" above 
referred to an ideal spot more than half-way up that 
glorious strait on the way to the Black Sea, in shelter of 
one of the many lovely curves that form the European 
shore, and which are lined with shining palaces, villages, 
minarets, and towers all the way from Constantinople. 
Europe and Asia there smile or frown on each other from 
the vast ruins of the old crusading castles at one point, in 
the summer-houses of countless princes and potentates on 
the other, with the wonderful flood of sea-water, pouring 
salt and strong, between from the dark seas that lead 
to mysterious Kussian ports, to those which dazzle the 
beholder all the way southward to the -<Egean, sweeping 
on through the Sea of Marmora and the Gates of the 
Dardanelles. At Therapia it is not pashas and effendis, 
but ambassadors from all the Courts in Europe, that line 
the shore with their delightful houses, and fill the little 
bay with their boats, from yachts trim, and taut to the 
little caique that bobs upon the dancing waves. Laurence 
had spent the summer in this beautiful retreat, in the 
midst of the finest society attaches and secretaries of 
legation flitting round their former brother in the craft, 
and careful ambassadors not scorning to take counsel with 
the sage, yet visionary, the man of the world who had 
been everywhere and seen most things under the sun, yet 
whose heart was all in some inconceivable mystery of 
religion, at which these gentlemen did not know whether 


to laugh or to frown. They did both ; and it did not 
matter to him what they did, who was equally ready to 
laugh with them, or to fight for the faith that was in him. 
His very mission for the sake of the Jews his curious 
design, which sounded at the first hearing as if it had 
some reference to the millennium and grand return of 
Israel and reign of the saints would enhance the interest 
in him, as he sat looking out, over the wreaths of roses 
and overflowing verdure, upon the hurrying tides of the 
great strait and the stately vessels that went to and fro 
writing once more the while the story of the country 
flowing with milk and honey, yet arrested in the very 
wealth of its powers till its ancient people should go 
back to till and plough. It would have added much to 
the picturesque effectiveness of the scene had Laurence 
believed a little more in the fate and fortunes of those 
for whom he worked ; but if he did not regard them in 
the light of enthusiasm, which makes their future as inter- 
esting as their past to many, there was yet growing in 
him a sort of dedication to the service of the race of Israel 
which was -not unimpressive. In the next letter which I 
shall quote there is still question of the book, which was, 
he hoped, to be of service too to the great scheme. This 
was in September 1879. 

"I am now hard at work on my book, which I hope 
will take, as it deals with a part of the world in which so 
many are interested. I think I told you I propose to call 
it ' The Land of Gilead.' If I had only one or two more 
books of reference here, this would be a perfect place to 
write in it is so quiet. Hamley is to leave to-day. I 
am sorry I have not seen so much of him as I should 
have wished. He lives at Buyukdere", about two miles 
off; and as he is a walker and I a lawn-tennis player, we 
could not take our exercise together so much as we other- 
wise should. 

" I shall probably be kept here till the end of the year, 
and, if I succeed, shall bring out the book at the same 
moment that I lay my Palestine scheme before the public : 
the two things will help each other, I have not yet 


encountered a particle of opposition to it, quite the con- 
trary. Every Turk, from the Sultan downwards, approves 
most highly ; but their vis inertice is so great, and their 
habits so dilatory, that it requires the greatest patience. 
I am glad that you are improving in health ; if I succeed, 
I shall invite you to pay me a visit in the Land of Gilead : 
it is a loyely climate, and I am sure you would be inter- 
ested in all there is to see." 

It is strange and sad to find this invitation, so lightly 
given, in the last letter ever addressed to the corre- 
spondent of so many years. Mr John Blackwood, the 
editor of the well-known Magazine and head of the well- 
known firm, died shortly after its receipt, to the great loss 
of all who were connected with him the loss of a friend, 
adviser, and steady backer -up, if such a word is permis- 
sible, in all literary matters, which Laurence, in common 
with many others, felt deeply. His next letter is ad- 
dressed to Mr William Blackwood, who had taken his 
uncle's place in the conduct of affairs not, happily, a 
new correspondent or unknown friend to the hereditary 
supporters and clients of his house. It was accompanied 
by an article for the Magazine. 

"CONSTANTINOPLE, November 17 [1879]. 

" It occurred to me that, under the tremendous pressure 
that is now being put upon Turkey, the Turkish view by 
an intelligent Turk might not be amiss. It is not flatter- 
ing to Christians, but they never really hear the other 
side of the question. I have thrown into the form of a 
letter from a Turk opinions which I have heard the most 
enlightened Turks express. Of course my Effendi is a 
mythical personage, but his views are those entertained 
by the most enlightened and independent -minded Turks 
men who will have nothing to do with politics, and live in 
retirement, and who have educated themselves by foreign 
travel. There are not many such, but there are one or 
two ; and although a good deal of hostile commentary 
may be excited by the paper, you are not responsible for 
the opinions it contains. 


" I hope Mrs Blackwood is bearing up under her great 
loss. You must all feel the blank terribly, and you 
especially, with your increased responsibilities. I hope 
you have good assistants to lighten your work." 

The next letter of the series is again occupied with the 
two subjects 'The Land of Gilead' and the great colon- 
isation scheme. 

" CONSTANTINOPLE, April 9, 1880. 

"The introduction is necessarily dry. The subject is 
one not susceptible of light treatment, nor do I think that 
the religious public, for whom it has a special interest, will 
find fault with it on that ground. It gets still worse 
when we come to the archaeological part. But if I suc- 
ceed in my scheme, I have no doubt it will have a great 
sale : the success will in a great measure depend on that. 
I have been kept here from day to day by messages from 
the Sultan, begging me not to leave until he has had 
an opportunity of talking with me, and I have another 
matter on hand which will certainly keep me here for 
another fortnight. . . . What an extraordinary sur- 
prise these elections have been ! The Turks are in con- 
sternation at the idea of Gladstone Prime Minister, and 
indeed the situation here is getting so interesting in con- 
sequence, that I am not sorry at being kept a little longer." 
" Gladstone," he adds, a few days later, " is a sort of 
Moody of politics, and his powers of canting revivalism are 
unsurpassed. . . . The amount of intrigue I am now 
encountering at the palace seems likely to beat me : it all 
seems to hinge on an interview with the Sultan, which 
Layard does not seem to have influence enough to obtain 
against the forces brought against him." 

Here was virtually the end of this great scheme : the 
hopes, which at first were so lively, died down by degrees, 
and finally the project was given up altogether. But 
though it did not itself succeed, the suggestion was a most 
fruitful seed, and fell into good soil. Since then a num- 
ber of Jewish colonies have been settled in Palestine, not 


indeed in the chosen spot which Laurence selected with such 
care, and for which he foresaw so splendid a future, but in 
other parts; and, I believe, with varying success. It is 
difficult for a stranger passing through these distant regions, 
without command of language or natural opportunities of 
intercourse with the inhabitants, to come at anything that 
can be depended upon as the truth which has different 
aspects, according to the eyes that look upon it and the 
point of view they take. Thus those who dislike the 
Jews and they are many tell a tale of indolence and 
exaction, and relate how the colonists demand everything 
from their founders and nothing from their own exertions ; 
while those on the other side take a much more favourable 
view of the strangers brought into their hereditary country. 
Perhaps, as generally happens, there is truth in both re- 
ports. I confess, however, that the sight of the new cot- 
tages, and still more of the half-cleared fields, built round 
with what we call in Scotland dry-stone dykes, made of 
the stones painfully gathered off the encumbered soil, with 
the young corn in its emerald green pushing round the 
still remaining boulders, was to myself a very affecting 
sight. Not without labour could the long quiescent soil 
be cleared of that encumbrance, which makes one feel as 
if not alone a martyr here and there but the whole land 
had been stoned, for the misdeeds which heaven has been 
so long waiting to forgive. I speak with the sentiment 
which Laurence Oliphant always disavowed a great sym- 
pathy and reverence in the thought that the most strange 
of wandering peoples (I do not say the most lovable or 
attractive) may yet be led back, some nucleus and seed of 
them, to the country that has never yet been restored to 
its fertility by any other hands. 

After this failure, which no doubt was a great disap- 
pointment to him, Laurence returned to England, and 
during the greater part of the year, I think, remained 
here. It was in the early winter that I saw him, as I have 
already described, and heard those confusing suggestions 
about the Counterpart in heaven, and the curious string 
of satirical verses which this very mundane angel, too well 
acquainted with the devices of society, had, as he thought, 


communicated to him. The verses were never printed, so 
far as I know, and it was well that this was the case, for 
I do not think they would have done the unseen col- 
laboratrice any credit. I believe that his little fictitious 
liveliness of satisfaction in these apparently quickened 
relations with the unknown was in reality the mere en- 
deavour of a sanguine and courageous spirit to indemnify 
itself for the clouds and weariness in which life was being 
lost. It was a dismal long way from London to the wilds 
of California, where, separated from him by more than dis- 
tance, by the irksome sway of a false obedience, and the 
sophistry of a spiritual guide whose despotism was becom- 
ing insupportable, his Alice was ; and his great scheme 
had failed; and perhaps the interest which he had hitherto 
excited on all hands began to fail a little too, or to be 
mingled with other sentiments, as he lingered about with 
no longer any scheme in hand, too much perhaps like other 
men ; and people began to ask where was his wife, and 
why was she banished so far away, while he was, as the 
vulgar thought, enjoying himself here ? The vulgar mind 
exists in all degrees of social life, and it was perhaps not 
unnatural that lookers-on of this complexion should take 
it for granted that the husband was enjoying himself 
because he was in England, and his wife injured and 
suffering because she was in California, occupied, as their 
fashionable friends whispered with bated breath, in the 
most menial offices, while he dined with princes. Califor- 
nia, however, is not so far from England after all as to be 
altogether deaf to what occurs on the other side of the 
Atlantic ; and when the derogatory rumours and wonder- 
ments of society wonder so easily converted into scandal 
at length reached the ear of Mrs Laurence Oliphant, 
her good sense at once convinced her that a summary 
answer must be given to the gossip, and the position at 
once rectified. The Prophet would also appear to have 
been convinced of the necessity of taking from all adver- 
saries such an occasion to blaspheme, for he does not seem 
to have interfered to prevent her journey in any way. 
Accordingly it became known suddenly in the early winter 
of 1880 that at last she was to join her husband in Lou- 


don. There was but one voice of jubilee and congratula- 
tion among all who knew them, at this much -desired 
reunion: and after her long absence, and wonderful ex- 
periences, Alice Oliphant was received everywhere with 
something like an ovation, subdued by the impossibility of 
saying what had been in everybody's mind, yet expressed 
in many a fervent pressure of the hand and outcry of 

It was in a little lodging in Half-Moon Street, just 
before Christmas, that I saw her for the first time. The 
fascinating and vivacious beauty of her youth could only, 
I think, have been enhanced, in expression at least, by all 
the strange vicissitudes she had gone through. She was 
by this time at the full height of life, the mezzo del cammin, 
and a little worn with delicate health and many labours ; 
but so sweet, so bright, so gay in her profound serious- 
ness, so tender in her complete independence, that all the 
charms of paradox were added to those of nature. She 
had the gift (which is an inheritance and special endow- 
ment of some well-bred Englishwomen) of a certain soft 
eloquence and command of perfect words which was de- 
lightful to listen to like music, but better than music 
to ears uninstructed in that art. Her husband was a 
brilliant conversationalist, but she was something more. 
Her beautiful sentences flowed like the easiest of chatter ; 
her sweet speech, in which the most keen critic could not 
have found an inappropriate or misplaced word, seemed 
simple as the utterances of a child. She had caught in 
America, with her fine musician's ear, a slight accent, 
which was amusing and piquant in an Englishwoman, 
though perhaps in itself scarcely delightful to English 
ears ; and the extraordinary mixture in her of the finest 
culture of the Old World and the freedom and strange 
experiences of the New the latter acquired, not in 
sophisticated places where New York or Boston holds the 
mirror up to London and Paris, but in the Far West, and 
in the primitive country districts, where all is individual 
and strange was more fascinating, amusing, and curious 
than words can say. She was in all her beliefs and senti- 
ments a mystic of the mystics, by force of nature as well 


as in devotion to the mysterious faith which had held them 
both in such complete and long subjection ; and to which, 
in spite of all that had come and gone, she was still bound 
heart and soul. She would talk, in her beautiful way, 
freely of what that faith and these principles were ; but 
I am bound to admit for myself that, though the talk was 
delightful, and to listen to the voice of the charmer, so 
long as she pleased to discourse, a constant fascination, 
yet I was little more enlightened at the end than at the 
beginning. But this was at a later period, and hurries the 
narrative, which here must receive her own explanation of 
the causes of her long absence, which the reader may think 
makes the guesses I have offered already unnecessary, or 
even vain, and which I find in a letter to her mother, Mrs 
Wynne Finch, dated from the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, 
on her arrival, and which is full of the excitement and 
buoyant pleasure of the return. 

" 1st November 1880. 

" So many thanks for your loving little note, which was 
delightful to read on the wharf, as a first greeting, after 
Laurence's, in old England. I am a little more than usu- 
ally tired with the almost unbroken journey of twenty 
days, having had an exceedingly rough passage, with much 
suffering, and having, moreover, taken a cold, which became 
bronchitis just as I was beginning my preparation for it, 
in California, so that I have had a weakness and cough 
working against me ever since. 

" It appears that there is a ball at Sandringham on the 
12th, and Hamon is naturally anxious that I should be 
there ; which I could do as well as not by taking care of 
myself up to that time. 

" So far as the on dits go, I assure you that my presence 
in this part of the world will soon relieve you of all the 
difficulties which you have, I know, contended with so 
bravely. Is it not funny what simple things cause so 
much astonishment ? I tell every one whom I meet the 
plainest truth about myself and my peculiarities, and in 
case you have any occasion or any wish to state the cir- 
cumstances to any one before I meet you, in the same way 


as I do, I will here reiterate them ; otherwise I am in the 
Old World to answer for myself, and can give all detail of 
explanation that any one may require when I see my 
friends. I have always exacted of Laurence that he should 
leave me free to make my own personal experiments that 
I may think needful for my usefulness in the world, as 
also of all my American friends. During this recent period 
of our separation I have to my own satisfaction, and 
entirely unknown to Mr Harris (whom I have not, be- 
cause of his health, been able to see for three years, 
and who did not know till the other day what I was 
doing), solved the question to myself of being a producer 
in the social scheme, unaided by any social connections, 
besides many other questions related to it, and of great 
practical value to myself. I return here for a while 
because I want to see you and my friends, because 
Laurence needs help that I can render him, and because 
I need rest et tout est dit ! except the thousand things 
that you will want to ask, and that I shall be delighted to 

" It seems unmitigatedly happy to be amongst you." 

Thus the simple story was told. It was very simple and 
true, and explained nothing, which is the best kind of social 
self-interpretation. Thus from teaching her little music- 
class in the Californian wilds, among the humble women 
who afterwards mourned her as an angel departed from 
among them, she flashed at once to the home of royalty at 
Sandringham, where all the Norfolk gentry, much occupied 
in their minds as to what had become of her, and whose 
fault it might be, could see at once that there she was, 
both happy and independent a wife truly united to her 
husband, a lady just as fit to stand before kings as when 
she had disappeared from among them. It was in its way 
a little triumph which, true woman as she was in all 
things, she enjoyed. 

But she came home to find her husband ill, and she was 
herself still combating the cold caught in California, and 
greatly worn and exhausted with all she had gone through, 
and the stormy voyage at the end ; and the pair were very 


speedily sent off by that habit of English doctors which 
sometimes affords a much-desired outlet to the sad and 
anxious, and sometimes is so great a burden and vexation. 
To the Oliphants it was a very convenient and delightful 
way of escape from various embarrassments ; and they set 
out for Egypt together with great enjoyment of that fact, 
and a return in the mind of Laurence of that healthful 
and cheerful impulse " to write something," which happily 
was now in full force again. The record of their journey 
is to be found chiefly in the ' Land of Khemi,' which relates 
the happy wanderings of the reunited pair among all kinds 
of unknown places entirely out of the beaten track, the 
fertile district of the Fayoum, and many others where foot 
of Englishman had scarcely passed, and which travellers 
less happily provided than themselves with official protec- 
tion and help could scarcely have undertaken, unless at 
enormous expense and risk. I am obliged to add, however, 
that this journey, which seems so happy in the narrative, 
was vexed by many irritating restrictions on the freedom 
of their intercourse, which had been imposed upon them 
as the condition of their prophet's permission for the re- 
turn of Alice. And another demand was here made on 
his part which I believe was whimsically and involuntarily 
balked by their residence in Egypt at the time of receiving 
the command. The call which was made upon them, as 
upon the other holders of land in the Brocton community, 
was that they should formally make over their rights in 
that property to their head. Neither of them, I am told, 
had the slightest intention of rebellion or resistance. But 
the Consul-General in Cairo, before whom it would have 
been necessary to appear to execute the documents re- 
quired, was an acquaintance of both, and they shrank from 
the inevitable betrayal of their act, and social discussion 
of it that would ensue. This accident, as I am told, saved 
as much as could be saved of the property of Laurence : 
that of his wife had long been out of her own power. 
The Egyptian book was published very soon after their 
return to England. The following letter, addressed to Mr 
W. Blackwood on the way home, shows how far the work 
had advanced, which must have been chiefly written amid 


the perpetual movements of the journey, between December 
1880 and March 1881 : 

" CAIRO, April 19. 

" I shall probably leave for America about the 15th of 
May ; but my wife will remain in England, and she is so 
well up in the names, &c., that she will correct the proofs 
of the remaining parts. I do not expect my absence to 
be long ; but as I shall probably have to go to California, 
I may not be back before the end of the year. I am 
fortunately well enough to travel, but have not got quite 
sound." A month later he writes from London : " I have 
taken a cottage for my wife at Windsor, not far from 
her namesake, so perhaps you will make a trip there and 
polish off both the Mrs O.'s. They are great friends." 

It was indeed an unusual gratification to have such a 
neighbour as Mrs Laurence Oliphant close at hand, and 
her delightful company was a pleasure all the greater from 
her extreme unlikeness to anything likely to be found on 
the homely level of a little country town. She had seen 
so much, and of all sorts and conditions of men her 
experiences were so wide-spreading, from Belgravia and 
the Faubourg St Germain to the Californian miners and 
farmers of Brocton ; and she would change in a moment 
from discussion of the highest problems to discourse upon 
the habits of the cocks and hens which she took pleasure 
in feeding and watching; or would rise from the table 
where she was making with flying needle a cotton gown 
for the summer, to play from memory a movement from 
Beethoven or Mozart, all with equal interest and energy 
and playful earnestness. There was no weariness where 
such an inmate and companion was. To old and young 
she was alike delightful not too wise for the girls, not 
too serious for the boys ; ready to talk, to laugh, to play 
on the piano almost anything they asked her for ; to fall 
into beautiful discourse one moment upon the love and 
service of mankind, to which she felt herself dedicated, 
and to break off the next into some homely jest of the 
family in which, like the jokes at Farmer Flamborough's, 
there might be little wit but much laughter. 


I have said that her explanations of the faith she held 
were bewildering to me. The dual principle carried out 
in the relations of humanity, but springing from the very 
Godhead which was made up of a Father and Mother, 
the masculine and the feminine in one person was the 
heart and soul of this system. I am not able myself to 
see that this view gives any deeper or more attaching 
charm of tenderness to the all-embracing love of the 
Father in heaven : but many good people have felt that it 
did so ; and to many, I believe, the doctrine of the new 
and close union between the Counterparts of married life, 
so that the man could be said to dwell in the woman and 
the woman in the man, each coming forth for their special 
department of human concerns, and retiring when it was 
their partner's turn, has been as a revelation from heaven. 
The additional sacredness thus given to what is already 
the closest tie on earth, and the conclusion that the deep- 
est interests of the human race were involved in it, and 
could only be worked out by its universal acceptance, 
was the chief dogma, if dogma it could be called, of the 
new faith. It differed only in its intenser feeling from 
the well-worn doctrine that " they two shall be one flesh," 
or at least it professed to be the perfect carrying out of 
that familiar principle, which, like almost all the principles 
of religion, Laurence Oliphant and his wife considered to 
have fallen into mere dead words and not living sources 
of faith. And yet I think I have known many pairs 
walking by a very sober light, who were indeed and in 
truth one flesh, or rather one soul. This, however, in the 
opinion of my friends, was what the world had lost ; and 
to regain the belief in its most superlative carrying out, 
in that state where each should be the complement, con- 
scious and certain, of the other, and in which the mutual 
thoughts or breathing together (Sympneumata) of the two 
were to purify the world and bring in at last the fullest 
conditions of salvation not indeed that salvation which 
the older creeds called saving of the soul, in their idea a 
purely selfish formula, but the redemption of the race from 
all its sins, the extinction of evil, the regeneration of the 
world was the subject of all their desires and thoughts. 


The reader may ask what had been in the meantime 
the history of the forsaken mother, who, during all these 
vicissitudes, had been labouring on alone at Brocton, far 
from the children she loved, in a position which the spec- 
tator can scarcely but feel to be cruel, but which she had 
chosen and accepted with the fullest faith. When Laurence 
left England in May 1881, it was for the purpose, among 
other things, of visiting his mother and satisfying himself 
as to her health, of which disquieting rumours had been 
heard not, I believe, from herself, for there had been 
little if any correspondence permitted between them for 
years. He had so great a faith in the continuance of her 
bodily vigour and health, which he believed to be sus- 
tained by constant communications of heavenly strength 
from her Counterpart on " the other side," his father, that 
he was not, I think, very anxious, but yet felt it necessary 
to see for himself how things were going. He found her, 
on his arrival at Brocton, much worse than he had thought, 
suffering from cancer, completely broken down in strength, 
and also troubled in heart and faith. I do not know how 
it had come to her in her long and weary drudgery to begin 
to doubt the truth of the Master, for so many years a 
veiled and distant prophet, whose sway had for so long 
been absolute over her life. Certain rumours about his life 
in California had reached his distant kingdom at Brocton, 
and awakened troubles and sorrow there ; and this dread- 
ful disenchantment was working in Lady Oliphant's mind 
as well as the deadly malady in her blood. 

Laurence in alarm summoned the best medical aid for 
his mother, but found little comfort in the opinions of the 
doctors ; and, whether by their advice or with lingering 
hopes of supernatural restoration, took her away a long 
and weary journey to California, with the intention of 
going to a watering-place there, where there were certain 
springs supposed to be of advantage in her complaint. 
They went first, however, to Santa Eosa, where in all 
likelihood he at least had still some lingering hope that 
the " Father," to whom so much of his life had been de- 
voted, the leader and guide of so many years, would find 
means of doing something for the faithful servant who had 


obeyed and believed in him for so long. I know no details 
of this visit, except that the sad pilgrims the dying 
mother and anxious son were far from graciously re- 
ceived. Their tyrant, who had so sensitive a conscious- 
ness of the " states " of his disciples, no doubt felt that 
something had come into their feelings towards himself 
which was new and strange, and either did not think it 
worth his while to conciliate them, or considered it still in 
his power to terrify and overbear. I do not know if any 
open breach occurred at this time ; but such a small inci- 
dent as the sight of a valuable ring belonging to Lady 
Oliphant, which had been given over with all other 
treasured things into the keeping of the prophet, upon the 
finger of a member of his household, brought a keen gleam 
of conviction, both to the one who doubted already and 
the other who did not know whether to doubt or, as on 
former occasions, to gulp down every indignity and obey. 
They remained only a few nights after their long journey, 
and were dismissed with, I believe, the scantiest pretence 
of hospitality upon the further way. 

The invalid however never reached the waters in whose 
healing influence her anxious companion had some hopes. 
They got as far as a village called Cloverdale (the reader 
familiar with that country will pardon my ignorance of 
the localities), where there was a woman who possessed 
one of those panaceas which are to be found in every 
country, decoctions of herbs and faith, curing actually in 
some few cases, by what action on body or mind it is 
hard to tell, various ailments and diseases. When he 
found that his mother could go no further, Laurence wrote 
to his friend in need, Mrs Walker, telling her his circum- 
stances. That kindest of friends at once went to their aid. 
She found Lady Oliphant very ill, but quite incredulous, 
as was Laurence, of the possibility of approaching death 
and attended by the woman with her cure, which, how- 
ever, was administered without confidence, the rural healer 
doubting that the patient had strength to recover. That 
any cure should have been sought at all was entirely con- 
trary to the orders and will of Harris, and angry letters 
had been received from him denouncing it. On what 



proved to be the last night of Lady Oliphant's life, Mrs 
Walker watched with Laurence in the sick-room : and she 
has described to me an extraordinary agitation of which 
she was sensible, in the air, which she could compare to 
nothing but a storm or battle going on over the bed, 
which affected even herself, no believer in the mysteries 
which were so dear to them with all the sensation of a 
terrible conflict, during which the patient suffered greatly. 
And then there came peace and great quiet, and the suf- 
ferer looked up, restored to ease, and told her son that she 
had seen his father, who had poured new strength into 
her, so that she felt overflowing with vitality, and knew 
that now she should live and not die. 

With these words on her lips, and murmuring some- 
thing about the angels all around and about, Lady Oli- 
phant died. 

She had been greatly deceived in her life, and suffered 
much. Yet we may be well assured that in the chief 
point of all, in the divine footsteps she had tried to follow, 
and the God whom she had always sought, though through 
mediums of human weakness, she was not deceived. It 
seems to the spectator a hard fate that this tender mother, 
so devoted through all his life to her only child, should 
have been left so long in her failing days, at the end of 
life, alone in a far distant country, separated from all who 
belonged to her. But at all events it was with her son's 
hand in hers, and her Lowry's beloved face bending over 
her, nearer to her than any angel, that this good woman, 
much blown about by many winds of doctrine, yet always 
steadfast to the standard of divine charity, passed into the 
eternal home, the way to which was never far off from her 
humble feet. 

His mother's deliverance from the bonds of the flesh 
was a great shock to Laurence, not only in his tenderest 
affections, but in those hopes which he had entertained 
that one so supported by the unseen need not die. When 
they had laid her in her grave, so far away, he returned 
with Mrs Walker to her home at San Kafael, a sorrowful 
man shaken loose for the first time from the strong delu- 
sions which had held him for so long. He had still 


believed, though perhaps with doubts and fears, when he 
took his dying mother to Santa Eosa ; but their reception 
there, and many circumstances connected with it, the un- 
expected repulse, the evidence of things which he could 
not but see, though hearing of them he had not believed, 
ripened these doubts into conviction. The revelations 
which she had made to him affected him still more power- 
fully after she was gone ; and when, in the silence of his 
sorrow, other recollections arose in his heart recollec- 
tions of the bitterness he had endured in that same place 
when turned away from the doors within which his wife 
was, denied even a word with her and of the manner 
in which his life had been foiled and turned aside, his 
energies checked, his labours interrupted, and everything 
he had and was turned to the profit of another, his heart 
burned and his bonds were broken. Ill and sorrowful 
and disenchanted, suffering from that most tremendous of 
moral convulsions, the throwing off of a long and con- 
firmed allegiance, the destruction of a faith that had 
been for many years the chief thing in his life, he passed 
through a period of suffering and mental conflict which 
had no parallel in his previous life. He had thrown over 
the world and all its hopes, his career, his ambitions, and 
his pleasures, lightly at the command of what he felt to 
be a voice from heaven ; but when he had to give up his 
faith in that voice and tear himself asunder from the 
influence which had cruelly interfered with every detail 
of his existence, the effort was not light or easily made. 
Mr Walker tells me that, as he discussed the question 
over and over again with his friends, great beads of per- 
spiration would come out on Laurence's forehead. The 
struggle was one almost of life or death. 

Fortunately, however, he was now in the midst of wise 
and energetic friends friends who, as his friends every- 
where would have been, were glad to perceive that the 
bonds which had been becoming more and more impossible 
through all these latter years were broken, and to help 
him towards a full emancipation. In this respect there 
was a long and difficult struggle to be gone through, which 
Laurence would have been totally incapable of conducting 


for himself, but which Mr Walker, a man of great stand- 
ing and importance in the district, was fully able to carry 
out, and did carry out, with, I have no doubt, no small 
enjoyment in the task. It is not necessary that I should 
enter into the processes by which the land originally 
bought by Laurence at Brocton, but which the head of 
the community had always administered and virtually 
possessed, was dragged back into the hands of its true 
owner. The operation took a considerable time, and much 
pressure ; but as neither the Californian merchant nor 
his lawyers were afraid, and their antagonist had by 
this time a great deal to lose, and could not afford to risk 
all that might arise from exposure and publicity, it was 
finally successful. The active agents found the greatest 
satisfaction and pleasure in extracting, bit by bit, the 
fields of Brocton from the hands which had held them 
so long ; but the man for whose benefit and in whose 
name the struggle was carried on did not enjoy it : he 
was torn asunder by the very fact of his escape. And 
I am told that a member of the Brocton community who 
was summoned to give an account of the property, a 
strong and sturdy young farmer, trembled like a leaf in 
presence of the Sorcerer who had thus bent them to his 
will, his knees knocking under him, and perspiration 
pouring from his brows. Many, if not all, of the Brocton 
people shared the doubts which Lady Oliphant had con- 
ceived, and were at the same time delivered from their 
long subjection ; but I do not know if any were so success- 
ful as Laurence, by means of his friends, proved to be, in 
the redemption of their land. 

There remained, however, a horrible question which 
took away all the comfort from these successes. What 
would Alice say in England, whose faith was unbroken, 
who had not laid a finger to the pulling down of the idol, 
and to whom it might seem the wildest iconoclasm and 
blasphemy ? This question was not solved, nor was there 
any confidence as to what its solution would be, when 
Laurence at length set sail for home. To escape the 
wintry journey he took a roundabout route, which he 
has described, I think, in one of his articles, going to 


New Orleans, and from thence along the Florida coast 
to Havana and St Thomas, and so to England. He writes 
from Havana to Mrs Walker, in a letter which throws 
some light upon the terrible suspense from which he was 
suffering : 

" I ought to be in good spirits so far as my physical 
condition is concerned ; but I cannot help feeling anxious 
at leaving the enemy so much time to carry on machina- 
tions in England possibly during my absence. In spite 
of my resolution to forget all the suffering I have passed 
through, it keeps coming back like a nightmare, and it 
will be some time before my wounds are healed. ... I 
daresay you will have heard from my wife long before 
this, and therefore will know more than I do what she 
is feeling. It seems so long to be without news from 

Alice meanwhile had not been without her share of 
suffering. I cannot tell whether, perhaps, had not the 
wisdom of him whom Laurence now describes as the 
Enemy failed him, it might have been possible that her 
strong faith in him might have vanquished her love for 
her husband. But fortunately the wisdom of the serpent 
sometimes does fail. One day while the struggle was 
going on she received a telegram from Santa Bosa, de- 
manding the aid of her authority in order to place her 
husband in a madhouse, proceedings to which end had 
been begun, but could not be completed without the sanc- 
tion of his nearest relative. It may be imagined what 
effect such a message so fiery, sudden, and imperative 
would have upon a woman trembling between two of 
the strongest impulses of humanity. Eeluctantly, forced 
by an order so inhuman, so treacherous and terrible, the 
scales fell from her eyes also ; and when Laurence, still 
trembling for the issue, reached Plymouth in the end of 
January 1882, he had the happiness to find his wife 
waiting for him there, in blessed demonstration of her 
fidelity and support in this perhaps most terrible moment 
of his life. He sends a hurried intimation of that fact off 


at once and of their pause for a week or two " in a sea- 
side villa lent us by the Mount Temples," at Babbacombe 
Cliffe near Torquay to his friends, with an intensity of 
relief which may well be imagined. 

This strange story of their emancipation from a long 
tyranny which is more strange still and strangest of all 
how it could have endured and affected the whole current 
of their lives gives a singularly dramatic conclusion to 
the wonderful tale. It is strictly and painfully true ; but 
that does not detract from the strange completeness of 
the construction, for truth, as the most hackneyed of all 
proverbs says, is always stranger than fiction. Fiction 
indeed can rarely at any time venture upon combinations 
and catastrophes which are the daily experience of life. 

They remained in London for some time after this, 
where Laurence occupied himself in preparing for pub- 
lication the entertaining volume called 'Traits and Trav- 
esties,' which consisted chiefly of articles contributed 
to ' Blackwood's Magazine,' almost all of a high order 
of merit, and perhaps more welcome to the public than 
the volumes of travel which one could not but feel 
might have been done nearly as well by a less gifted 
hand ; whereas nobody but Laurence could have written 
the stirring adventures of the War Correspondent, the 
pungent remarks of Turkish Effendi and American Sena- 
tor, still less the experiences of Irene Macgillicuddy, or the 
still more astonishing narrative of Dollie, all of which 
are included in that book. 

This was the end of anything that could be called 
residence in England for the much-travelling pair. Mrs 
Laurence Oliphant never returned after her brief stay ; 
and he came only for flying visits, sad enough and for- 
lorn. Another, and the last, phase of their united life, 
in every respect the happiest, but of short duration, was 
now to begin. 




IT is scarcely necessary for me to enter into the history 
of the persecution and ill-treatment of the Jews in the 
provinces of Galicia, Wallachia, &c., which made so many 
unhappy families homeless, and roused the indignation 
and sympathy not only of their own people scattered 
over the world, but of most Christian nations, during the 
year 1881. It will be well enough remembered that one 
of those great subscriptions, which show at once the 
wealth and liberality of the City, and which have done 
both good and evil under the title of the Mansion House 
Fund, had been taken in hand for the distressed and 
persecuted Israelites during the course of the year, and 
that a large sum of money had been raised which it 
was of great importance to find trustworthy agents to 
administer. His previous exertions in respect to Pales- 
tine colonisation had called the attention of the heads 
of the Jewish nation in England, as one who had done 
a great deal of work in their interest, to Laurence Oli- 
phant, who was, as it happened, at this moment without 
any serious claim upon his time and thoughts. I have 
no information as to the preliminaries of his appointment, 
having only heard suddenly one wintry Saturday evening 
that they were going off on Monday to the unknown 
world, and that if I wanted to say good-bye to them, 
I must go at once. On a Sunday afternoon, accordingly, 
wet and cold, in one of those London lodgings which look 
so dreary out of the season, a large dingy drawing-room 
in Clarges Street, I think, with heavy old furniture adding 
to the gloom of the London afternoon in its general 
absence of light, I saw Mrs Laurence for the last time. 
She was seated by the fire arranging her ornaments in a 
little jewel-box in preparation for departure, her graceful 
head relieved against the dull glow of the fire on one 
side, and the duller light of the afternoon falling upon 
the slimness of her shadowy figure, the dark hair loosely 


brushed back from her fine brow, the delicate profile 
bending over the trinkets, on the other. She was cheer- 
ful and pleased with the expedition, the new worlds to 
conquer and strange sights to see; and presently her 
husband came in, who told me the story of his mother's 
death as I have already recorded it, with the invincible 
cheerfulness natural to a man who looked upon death 
rather as a means of bringing those he loved nearer to 
him than of making a dreadful void in his life. They 
were all packed and ready for their start, not knowing 
precisely where Providence might lead them before they 
came back, but facing all the hazards of the future with 
pleasant confidence a confidence, no doubt, springing 
partly from an ever sanguine and buoyant nature, but 
chiefly from the sense of the great work which they felt 
to be in their hands, and which they were sure of the 
guidance of God to enable them to carry out. 

It was during this interview that I became aware 
distinctly, and for the first time, that the guidance of 
Harris was no longer the rule of their lives. No ex- 
planations were entered into, unless it were a brief and 
unwilling intimation that the point of view on which the 
disagreement took place was a pecuniary one, and caused 
by the action of evil counsellors round him. I had re- 
marked a caution in the manner of Alice in referring 
to him during the latter part of her stay in Windsor, 
which had prepared me to hear of some change in their 
relations. And I confess to having felt much sympathy, 
and even sorrow, for the disenchantment, feeling that it 
could not but be a great mental shock to be forced to 
admit that the man who had dominated their lives for 
so many years was not the prophet, guide, and leader 
they had believed him to be. The force of indignation 
with which his later acts had inspired them, however, 
and the sense of newly regained freedom, and conscious- 
ness that no one now could interfere with their union, 
neutralised the severe blow of discovering his unworthi- 
ness. And they were now as people emancipated, safe 
and secure in being together, and evidently feeling them- 
selves fully equal to the task of guiding and helping 


those who should adhere to them. Free as they had 
always been from the usual ties of a settled home, they 
were now more free than ever; but with the difference, 
that their first aim hereafter was to find an abiding place 
and centre for themselves, and that "work" which was 
to them the chief end of life, independent of all previous 
associations. What was really meant by that work was 
at all times a more difficult matter, and apt to exercise 
the minds of those who followed them with ever-increasing 
interest and wonder, but limited understanding. 

This, then, was their new beginning and independent 
set out in life. No idea of separation crossed their 
minds any more ; they were more happy in each other's 
society than perhaps they had ever been: even in the 
first enthusiasm of their marriage there had always been 
that chain, sometimes lightly borne, sometimes almost im- 
perceptible, but at any moment capable of being tight- 
ened by the impulse of an abrupt recall. They set out 
now hand in hand, with the happiness of a boy and girl 
going forth upon a new world, which was all before 
them where to choose, or at least contained somewhere 
a heaven -ordained sphere, where in direct communion 
with all they loved, and guidance from on high, they 
could work and live. 

The preliminary chapter of this new existence carried 
them, indeed, into a region of winter and rough weather, 
both physically and spiritually, to begin with, in the 
midst of the suffering crowds of Jews. Laurence wrote 
to Major Goldsmid, who had at one time intended to 
accompany him from Paris, the first stage of the long 
journey, regretting the impossibility of their meeting, 
but expressing a hope that " we shall yet be associated 
in a far more interesting and lasting work than the 
emigration of the Jews from Brody to Canada." 

" 9th March [1882]. 

" I forwarded to Lord Mount Temple a very important 
letter yesterday from Galatz. There is an immense move- 
ment going on in Roumania, and subscriptions amongst 


Jews alone there for Palestine colonisation purposes, it 
is hoped, will amount to fifty thousand francs a-month. 
I shall visit the local and central committees in Rou- 
mania, and report thereupon." 

The next letter is from Jassy, Moldavia, and seems 
to point to a resignation of the immediate Mansion House 
commission, and return to the always interesting general 
subject of Jewish colonisation in Palestine. Laurence, 
however, retained the command of money from charitable 
sources with which to relieve the poor Jews who crowded 
about him wherever he went. 

" 5th May 1882, 

"I have been so overwhelmed with work and corre- 
spondence that it has been quite impossible for me to 
reply to your letter sooner. I was detained at Lemberg 
for three weeks through the bungling chiefly of the 
Mansion House Committee, whose intentions are better 
than their executive faculty, and, after all, was prevented 
from accomplishing in that time what would have been 
a simple operation. However, Montagu and Asher came 
out at last, and I was able to hand on the responsibility 
of making arrangements, which are not in the least 
likely to succeed, to them. They all mean well, and are 
doing their best. Meantime I am thankful to be inde- 
pendent. On the 3d I attended a meeting of delegates 
from twenty - eight Palestine colonisation committees. 
There are forty-nine in the country altogether. It was 
very interesting and encouraging. My correspondence 
from all parts of Eussia tells me that the movement is 
universal ; but for the moment everything is at a stand- 
still, until I have been to Constantinople to find out the 
dispositions of the Turkish Government. I hope to 
arrive in Constantinople next week, and it is impossible 
to say exactly how long I shall be kept there. Probably 
I shall go from thence to Beyrout, as I shall also have 
matters to arrange at Damascus ; and it would not be 
well for you to come out before September or October, 
which is the pleasantest season, and when something 


definite will have been settled, and matters regularly en 
train. You would have been immensely interested had 
you been with me. The poor people are so grateful, that 
my wife and I are the subjects of a series of ovations. 
She has just managed to scramble through on the health 
question, and has had several times to spend a day in 
bed, sometimes knocked down by the amount of suffering 
she was called upon to witness, sometimes by the fatigue 
unavoidable in these long railway journeys. However, 
I hope the worst is over. I have not had time to 
write a line to any paper. We leave this to-morrow for 

Things, however, looked very black when he proceeded 
to Constantinople, where, instead of progress, there seemed 
to be nothing but retrogression since his futile attempt to 
gain a concession in the previous years. Then it was the 
vacillation of officials he had blamed ; now the motive of 
delay was more marked, and the hostility declared. The 
following was written for the information of an American 
newspaper : 

" It may interest you to know that the Sultan refuses 
to permit the Eussian and Eoumanian Jews, who were 
desirous to emigrate to Palestine in large numbers, to 
form colonies in that country. Two or three delegations 
which have already been sent to the Holy Land have 
selected land, and although the money has been collected 
and the families are ready to settle, they are unable to do 
so, as the Turkish consuls at Odessa and Bucharest refuse 
them the necessary passports. Jewish delegates from 
various societies are now in Constantinople endeavour- 
ing to overcome this difficulty. Meantime two hundred 
families have arrived there, and are unable to proceed, 
and their means are rapidly becoming exhausted. In- 
deed some of them are at the point of starvation, and 
unless measures are promptly taken, will have no means 
whatever of subsistence. I have sent letters to be cir- 
culated amongst the Eussian and Eoumanian Jewish 
communities, impressing upon the numerous colonisa- 


tion societies the necessity of waiting until existing ob- 
stacles shall have been removed. Meanwhile the political 
difficulties which have arisen in the East, in consequence 
of the recent action of England and France in regard to 
Egypt, tend to complicate the situation, and will probably 
render the Sultan more reluctant than ever to introduce 
a new element into the Eastern question by opening his 
Asiatic dominions, and more especially that portion of 
them with which so strong a religious sentiment is con- 
nected, to the immigration of Jews en masse. Meanwhile, 
as the hostility of the Eussian peasantry, fostered by the 
Government, towards the Israelites continues to manifest 
itself in renewed persecution, the condition of that un- 
happy people, who find this avenue of escape unexpectedly 
blocked to them, is truly deplorable. 

"The position there, however, is too strained to last. 
I cannot but think that we are on the eve of an import- 
ant political crisis, but at this moment I am powerless. 
The very name of an Englishman is enough to rouse 
the Sultan's present opposition, and the influence of the 
British Ambassador is entirely negative in other words, 
it would ruin any cause he attempted to advocate. But 
this is not the present man's fault, but that of the policy 
he has inherited, and which is imposed upon him from 

I may also quote here another letter explanatory of 
the situation in which the scheme of Jewish colonisation 
stood a month later, which Laurence addressed soon after 
his arrival in Constantinople to Mrs Wynne Finch, en- 
closing a communication more formal than a personal 

" CONSTANTINOPLE, 20th June 1882. 

" I have always left correspondence with you to Alice, 
as I have been so overwhelmed that I have had to go 
to the extravagance of keeping a secretary, who speaks 
eleven languages and writes in five, which has resulted 
in a perfectly ruinous bill for postage every week; but 
I am thankful this phase is drawing to a close. A certain 


Mr Cazalet lias, as it were, run across the scent, and 
drawn the Semitic pack after him, thus giving me some 
relief ; so I am for the present going gracefully to retire 
from the prominent position into which I have been 
forced in spite of myself, and wait till the development 
of events forces me to resume it again. Alice has there- 
fore wished me to explain my situation and that of the 
question generally to you, and I cannot do this better 
than by copying a letter I am on the point of sending to 
the most prominent Jews in Eussia, which will be pub- 
lished throughout the Semitic press of Kussia, and prob- 
ably of Europe generally. 

" ' The question of Jewish emigration to Syria has 
become surrounded, as you are aware, by unexpected 
difficulties, owing to the important political European 
questions arising out of the European imbroglio, and to 
the prohibition issued by the Porte against colonisation 
in Palestine. There is, however, an old emigration law, 
of which I enclose copy, under which the Turkish Govern- 
ment undertakes to provide all immigrants desirous of be- 
coming Turkish subjects, and possessing a certain limited 
capital, with suitable tracts for settlement. At the request 
of Mr Cazalet, an English gentleman, whom I have not 
the pleasure of knowing except by correspondence, the 
Turkish Government has under this law indicated, as the 
region suitable for the Jews, certain tracts in the vilayet 
of Adana, on the Orontes and in Mesopotamia. So far 
their assurances upon this subject are merely verbal ; 
but they have also been made to the American Minister, 
and I have every reason to believe that they will soon be 
specified in writing, so that I think they may be relied 
upon. Should you feel warranted in acting upon these 
facts, I would suggest that you form your central organi- 
sation and send delegates to examine the land without 
delay, and that if on their return to Constantinople they 
report favourably upon the conditions under which coloni- 
sation is to be undertaken, a permanent commission should 
be established at Constantinople, which should place itself 
in communication with the Turkish Government, and 
arrange the details in regard to the settlement of the first 


colonies ; and that delegates should at the same time be 
sent to England to solicit the pecuniary aid in that country 
which I am sure would be forthcoming. The lands will 
accommodate hundreds of thousands of families, who, ac- 
cording to the explanation given by the Government to 
the American Minister, will be planted in villages of from 
two hundred to three hundred houses each. It is possible 
that even special regulations may be promulgated shortly 
by the Turkish Government on the subject, but in the 
meantime this is how the matter stands. I regret that I am 
obliged shortly to leave Constantinople, but the American 
Minister, whose Government takes a benevolent interest 
in the subject, has kindly assured me that he will be 
happy to render your delegates or local committee any 
assistance in his power. 

" ' Although it is not possible at the present moment 
of public agitation to obtain such special facilities and 
advantages as would in my opinion ensure the success of 
colonisation in masses, I believe that a more favourable 
juncture of circumstances will ere long arise. In the 
meantime, I trust that your co-religionists will not allow 
themselves to be discouraged by this check, and they may 
rest assured that I shall continue to feel a warm sympathy 
in their sufferings and their future welfare.' 

" The above," he adds, " will appear in the ' Jewish 
Chronicle,' but in the meantime it may interest Lady W. 
to see it. 

" The next [July] ' Blackwood ' contains a squib by me, 
entitled ' The Great African Mystery,' on the Egyptian 
question. It may perhaps seem rather a grim joke now, 
but it was printed and despatched to England before we 
had heard here of the massacres in Alexandria. I thought 
you might like to know of it. 

" P.S. Cazalet has a capital of two millions." 

The colonies which were begun on this guarantee, and 
their success, are too large a subject to be discussed 
here. The history of the pair of travellers, whose fortunes 
are our immediate concern, goes on through all these 
extraneous matters. Before the above exposition of 


the existing state of affairs was written, Laurence and 
his wife were settled on the edge of the Bosphorus, at 
Therapia, in the midst of the summer society of that 
interesting place. 

" This is a lovely spot," Mrs Laurence writes to her 
sister, " as indeed almost every place along the shores of 
the Bosphorus seems to be ; and we have chosen rooms 
in a house that is a little way up the abrupt slope. Our 
ground-floor is at the height of two or three tall houses 
above the shore, and we are at the top of it, whi'ch enables 
us to look up and down the Straits from our windows." 

" Among the various reports," she adds, in another letter 
to her mother, " of the prospects of the Jews, you must 
have been puzzled to know which was likely to indicate 
the state of affairs. Practically none ; for while there is 
generally some foundation for all the ideas of the corre- 
spondents, who catch hold of scraps of information about 
the various intrigues eternally fastening here upon every 
public event how far any intrigue will go it is impossible 
to predict ; still more, how far any frank demand for the 
redress of grievances will succeed is uncertain till long 
after it is made, because, as you know, the Government 
here encourages and smiles amiably on intrigues and open 
questions alike, and promises for ever but gives nothing, 
if they can help it, in writing. It has taken most of the 
time we have spent here for Laurence to get to the bottom 
of the motives of some half-dozen sets of individuals pro- 
fessedly working for the relief of Jewish persecution by 
Asiatic colonisation, some of whose schemes seem plaus- 
ible enough, and combine a good backing of money with 
sincerity of aim. But, after all, they all turn out to be 
more of money speculations than anything else, and he 
finds he cannot work with them on that ground. Among 
the various ways in which he has found means of ap- 
proaching the Cabinet without risking a flat refusal of 
even a hearing, one only has produced a result that may 
lead to obtaining a definite permission for the colonists 
for the north of Syria, and that is through the Amer- 
ican Minister and Government. But they still delay 


the written permission, without which the most certain 
probabilities are perfectly useless. So, though there does 
seem some chance of soon knowing oil nous en sommes, still 
practically, as every uncertainty here is all uncertainty, 
we live on in suspense still. No assertion of permission 
obtained that you see in the papers means anything : they 
all refer to verbal promises, not documents, alas ! " 

" It is full swing of summer," she continues, July 5, " of 
society and conference now, and this part of the Bosphorus 
is as busy as a large town ; but the climate is perfect 
enough to reconcile one to almost anything, even to the 
torture of Tantalus, which it is to let the ambassadors sit 
under one's very nose and be unable to know what they 
do. In spite of their mysteriousness, we see enough of 
Lord Dufferin, M. de Noailles, and M. Corti (their three 
summer embassies being at Therapia) to judge that they 
are almost distracted with the agonies of the ' cleft stick ' 
in which they find themselves. Every other subject than 
that of the situation has dropped out of thought here. 
Laurence has been sending no advice to Jews the world 
over but to wait, for any attempt at a movement would only 
bring them into disaster. He thinks upheaval throughout 
this empire more imminent than most people do. He 
says there can be no question now of our moving our- 
selves to Syria till the questions pending between the 
Governments are defined one way or another ; so we are 
making no plans, but stay on here, where we are well, 
and well off, for the present, indefinitely. You will see a 
very tough article of his, if you have time to read it, in 
the next number of the ' Nineteenth Century,' " The Jew 
and the Eastern Question," which sums up his view of the 
whole prospect. 

" We dined last night with the de Noailles. She is 
always full of questions about you, and is particularly 
affectionate and attentive to me. Laurence likes him, 
and all the diplomatists consider him very pleasant. 
Count Corti, whom H. and E. will remember at Washing- 
ton, is a very old friend of Laurence's, and he has com- 
pleted my comfort here by giving me a key to the door at 
the top of the embassy garden, which is just opposite this 


house, so that I have his hanging terraces to myself, and 
a short cut down upon the line of houses where most 
people live at the water's edge, and to which the scramble 
down the little street is stony and roundabout. The gar- 
dens of the French and English embassies, also climbing 
the slopes above their palaces, are indescribable for beauty. 
Periodical garden receptions have begun at both, where 
all the diplomatic world take tea, and tennis and talk ; 
and one can come and go freely enough not to find it a 
fatigue to ' see the world.' 

" We thought only (August 10) of moving about thirty 
miles off, and it will not change our address if we do. 
We have delayed on account of the uncertain appearance 
of political affairs ; but they seem settling into a sort of 
a groove, so now it depends on our finding a house on 
Princes Island. If not, we shall stay here another two 
months. Lady Dufferiri has arranged for my bathing with 
them (in an enclosure with a false bottom, the deep water 
frightening weak swimmers otherwise), and will send the 
children's donkey for me, and send me back every day ; 
so I am not absolutely dependent on a change of place for 
my bathing now. . . . We were greatly amused at another 
piece of Lady S.'s temper. She is certainly preposterously 
rude. But Laurence says she would speak just the same 
before his face, and says she doesn't half mean it ! I 
wish we had the benefits our interest in distressed popula- 
tions is supposed to bring us. With a little more money 
we could do so much more good. As it happens, though 
our travelling expenses to Lemberg were given by the 
Mansion House, incidental matters of charity to them 
have made us some hundreds of pounds out of pocket this 
spring ; besides that, we had sent between forty and fifty 
souls of them to Brocton, where all the first year's ex- 
penses will have to be borne by our property before 
their labour can begin to make them independent. Poor 
things, we get such grateful letters from there. We gave 
orders to have their Sabbaths and all food and other 
special observances respected, of course. This experiment 
interests Laurence particularly, because the great fault 
and weakness of the Jews is their inability for handy 


work ; and he says to train even a few into that, and into 
a co-operative manner of life, will be a great gain. As 
soon as they begin to earn their own livelihood, they 
will be taught how to share the profits of the land, so 
as to have the dignity of part proprietorship. Meanwhile 
Laurence keeps us bravely with his pen ; so we are not 
exactly in the reckless enjoyment of moneys obtained for 
' Harrisonian ' purposes that Lady S. seems to suppose, 
though very comfortable and happy, and interested in all 
we do. But it is quite futile to explain, and your quiet 
fencing is the only and best way to deal with the class of 
people that can never get the right end of the stick in 
their hands." 

This allusion is to one of the many stories which were 
always rife as to the proceedings of two people so little 
apt to be " understanded " of the common spectator as 
these : it being so much more easy, it appears, to conceive 
the idea of a high-minded gentleman living and growing 
fat upon money collected for the service of the poor, than 
of his adding from his own stores to their relief, and 
serving them "all for love and nothing for reward." I 
have myself heard from the same quarter as that which 
produced this report the most ludicrous as well as 
slanderous version of the original life of Brocton, which I 
love little, being, as it was, under the shadow of an un- 
justifiable and cruel domination, but which was only too 
self-denying and pure. The body of Jews sent to Brocton, 
I believe forty or fifty in number, had a fluctuating fate, 
now up, now down, and cost Laurence, what was for him 
a large sum of money, I am told, about four hundred 
pounds altogether; but whether the experiment was a 
permanently successful one, I have not been able to 
ascertain. The letter resumes: 

" We. have no plans now but to watch, from not too 
far, the fate of Islam, which includes the province where 
sooner or later we want to make a home. But how long 
the question of any one's going, much less settling in 
Syria, will be a castle in Spain, it is impossible to tell. 


Probably Cyprus would be a good place to winter in, 
because Laurence can make an easier livelihood where 
news abounds, and as near the scene of disturbance as 
is perfectly safe for me. But he says Constantinople is 
very disagreeable in winter, as I see it must be in bad 

A few weeks later Mrs Oliphant writes from Prinkipo, 
one of " the Islands " to which at certain seasons all the 
higher class of residents at Constantinople resort, and 
which rise out of the soft waters of the Sea of Marmora, 
within sight of the Golden Horn and all its mingled 
masts and minarets, another variety of beauty, yet 
scarcely less attractive than the lovely bays of the Bos- 

" Thank you for trying to see Mrs Cuthbert. She had 
gone to Broadlands. I am so happy in the possession of 
an intimate and understanding friend. Our little house- 
hold often makes me laugh at its heterogeneity : our three 
selves (cosmopo - English), a little Polish Hebrew, and 
Hebrew scholar required for the Hebrew and German 
and Roumanian correspondence that Laurence has, and a 
steady old Greek man-cook, who takes charge of kitchen, 
marketing, and table, and does a little housemaiding the 
first excellently, the rest indifferently ; but with a little 
charwomaning, we accomplish housekeeping in delightful 
simplicity. We are all hard at work like a school of 
children. The Hebrew must learn English to fit on to 
some other work Laurence will want him for later on, so 
I give him a daily lesson through the German. Then 
Violet Cuthbert learns German, of which she had a 
smattering in her youth, so I have another pupil. She 
will want it when we flit to Syria, as it is the modern 
language of all Eastern Jews. Then Laurence takes 
lessons in the rudiments of Hebrew, besides writing, of 
course, more or less all the time ; and what with the crin- 
crin of education and the ordinary correspondence, with 
sprinklings of needlework, sketching, donkey -riding, and 
bathing (this probably stopped by the rain, which has 


to -day, October 20, brought an autumnal change of 
temperature), we constitute a perfect ant-hill of small 
activities. It is only possible because of our complete 
absolution here from social duties, but it is very refreshing 
to mind and body." 

This time of suspense, yet of partial holiday, lasted 
some months. They had no pressing cares : the absence 
of money, and the need of in many ways shifting for them- 
selves, were to these two, trained by so many experiences 
both lofty and homely, la moindre des choses; and they 
were together, in the midst of the most beautiful scenery 
in the world, with as much diversion in the way of society 
as they cared for, and a great deal of their own company, 
which they liked best of all. But in the end of the year 
Laurence was so far satisfied with the progress made, or 
else with the impossibility of making progress, that they 
felt themselves free to proceed upon their own business, 
and seek the home and settlement upon which they had 
set their hearts in Syria. It was, I believe, more what we 
call chance than any deliberate choice that directed them 
towards Haifa (or Caiffa, as it is frequently called), a 
small bright Syrian town lying on the western edge of the 
Bay of Acre, with a beautiful prospect across that bay of 
the historic fortress, which has figured in so many wars, 
and the noble background behind of the hills of Galilee. 
The aspect of the place, lying in almost perpetual sun- 
shine, with a fertile plain sweeping behind to the edge 
of the low and swelling slopes of Carmel, charmed the 
wanderers, who had no settled ideas on the subject or 
attraction to one place more than another. And when 
they landed and found that the little Eastern town, with 
its white rounded house-tops and mosque reflected in the 
shining water, had the quaintest of contrasts a com- 
fortable European settlement behind, with a row of well- 
built houses arranged along a sort of rural street with 
shady trees and gardens, the additional attraction of this 
mixture of comfort and cleanliness, and the kindly faces 
of the German colonists ready to help and advise the 
strangers, decided them at once. It is curious to know 

HAIFA. 325 

that the original aim and inspiration of this German- 
American community was the same injunction to "live 
the life " as had given all that was good in it to the com- 
munity at Brocton ; with this addition in the case of the 
Germans, that their hope, as members of the Society of 
the Temple, was thus to await in the Holy Land the com- 
ing of the Lord. 

It happened fortunately that a house remained un- 
appropriated, next to that of the heads of the German 
community, the kind and friendly Schumachers, Ger- 
man Americans of the most worthy type, their strong 
nationality scarcely tempered by the atmosphere of the 
Moslem world about, with which both the Oliphants were 
so familiar. Nothing, indeed, can be more quaint than the 
homely village Germanism, which shows so strongly amid 
the habits and languages of the East ; and its addition of 
solid, honest, and practical dealing was an unexpected and 
delightful addition to the possibilities of life. They de- 
cided accordingly to settle here. It was on the highroad 
to all the projected settlements of the Jews, and close to 
some of these still undetermined colonies, as will be seen 
from the following letter addressed to Major Goldsmid, 
one of the most energetic and persevering of the Jewish 

" HAIFA, 1st December 1882. 

" I was very glad to think that there is a prospect of 
my having a visit from you here. I have just taken a 
house for a year in this charming spot, and my wife 
and I are busy furnishing and installing ourselves not 
a very easy matter, with such limited resources as the 
country affords ; so that if you come in March you will 
find us, and by that time the Jewish colonies will be in a 
more interesting condition than they are now. I have 
not written to the ' Jewish Chronicle ' about them, as so 
far there is nothing favourable to report. The Eoumanians 
are the most active. The Eussians, having taken my 
advice, are waiting for a more propitious moment. The 
former are trying to colonise against the wish of the Gov- 
ernment, trusting to backsheesh to overcome opposition. 


One colony, the land for which has been purchased about 
twenty miles from here for 40,000 francs, is still waiting 
for its settlers, not one of whom has yet been placed upon 
it; and the expenses so far, besides the purchase-money, 
have been over 20,000 francs, all which has been con- 
tributed by poor Eoumanians. I am afraid there is a 
good deal of misappropriation of funds, but I am keeping 
clear of it, as they refuse to be advised. I have visited 
the property. Meanwhile there are about thirty families 
living in Haifa, waiting for Government permission to 
go on the land. I hear that the Shaftesbury colony at 
Latakia has not yet got upon the land. There is another 
colony near Safed, which I understand is doing better. 
The climate here at this time of year is simply heavenly." 

Several other letters on this subject give a view of the 
gradual settlement of these Jewish colonies, and the very 
anxious care and supervision exercised over them. The 
question is one into which it is unnecessary to enter, and 
I have not sufficient information on the subject to be able 
to offer any account of this work. Its success if it suc- 
ceeds, which I believe in some instances it is doing owes 
everything to Oliphant's initiative, though his original 
scheme failed, and he took no positive part in carrying 
his own suggestions out. There are various notes, how- 
ever, in some of these letters to show the offices of mercy 
and kindness which he did execute personally towards the 
weaklings of the flocks : 

" I gave B. W., about whom you wrote, money enough 
to take him back to Eoumania : he was a poor, weak, good 
creature, quite useless here. There is a man, H., who is 
poor and deserving, and whom I help on the sly, but I 
have got him taken on as a colonist at Eochepina. It is 
difficult to help the poor and deserving, as 1 do not want 
to interfere with Eothschild's arrangement ; and as a gen- 
eral rule, it is very fair and just, but here and there are 
cases of hardship. There are two who are not agricul- 
turists who are being dismissed from Summarni. They 
are offered their passages back to Eoumania, but they don't 


want to go, and say they are willing to work here ; so I 
am going to have them employed by the German colony 
on general works for the colony, and as they are not worth 
wages to the colonists, I will pay them. In this way I 
will test their sincerity as being willing to work as day- 
labourers, and have them learn agriculture." 

In the meantime, both before leaving Constantinople 
and after his settlement at Haifa, Laurence was " support- 
ing us bravely by his pen," as his brave wife, generously 
scornful of all the false reports of the ignorant and ill- 
natured, said. Article after article poured from that lively 
and rapid pen from brilliant aperqus of the political sit- 
uation to the amusing little drawing-room comedy of 
" Adolphus," a trifle dashed off in fun and haste ; and he 
had nearly completed, while about those golden shores 
and islands, the novel of ' Altiora Peto,' of which he writes 
to his editor in 1882. Mr Blackwood had evidently bidden 
him " Let sleeping dogs lie," in accordance with the prov- 
erb, in respect to some of the satirical assaults contained 
in his new book. 

" Something must have happened since the ' Turkish 
Effendi ' and the ' Reconstruction of the Sheepfolds ' to 
make you fear the ' sleeping dogs.' It is just the sleeping 
dogs that I am determined to poke up. They have no 
business to be asleep: but I can quite understand that 
you should not want to poke them up with the Magazine. 
The novel is in the ' Piccadilly ' style, but ventilates theo- 
logical opinions that are not old-fashioned, and goes in 
largely for attacking the views of modern society." 

This book, accordingly, was not published in " the 
Magazine " (a fond and familiar arrogance of title adopted 
by all her contributors to distinguish the doyenne of all 
existing magazines, the ever fresh and living ' Maga '), but 
was brought out independently during the next year in 
numbers, as the works of George Eliot had been an ex- 
periment only capable of being tried with a very well- 
known and popular writer. I believe it was altogether 


the most highly popular and successful of all Laurence 
Oliphant's works, and excited great interest both among 
those who enjoyed the satire and those who were moved 
by the more serious interest. The title of the work and 
the name of the heroine were taken from his family 
motto "Altiora Peto" ("I seek for higher things"), 
being the distinctive sentiment, among various Oliphant 
mottoes, of the house of Condie. There was much appro- 
priateness, and some humour, in the adaptation. I fear, 
however, that the blaze of wit and social satire which 
gave the tremendous sensation of the plot an> air of inten- 
tional extravagance, were more thought of by the general 
reader than the superlative love and high philosophical 
mission of Altiora and her visionary lover. It was the 
first time that Laurence had mingled his English and 
American experiences of the world, and to many persons 
the conjunction added much to the piquancy of the work. 
Old Hannah, who is the most original of the characters, 
may probably bear an ideal resemblance to some of the 
mothers of the community at Brocton, in her mixture of 
the quaint rural American woman with the prophetess and 
seer. So might the woman have spoken who mourned 
over the sweet face of the bride to whom, the community 
were so much alarmed to hear, Laurence had pledged 
himself. " I see great suffering before her whichever 
way she turns, for with her feeling is life." One can 
scarcely doubt that he was thinking of some such per- 
sonage when he placed this angular, tender-hearted, 
queer-spoken mystic, the illuminated person, yet village 
seamstress, upon his canvas. 

And then there ensued a peaceful moment, an idyl of 
peace and tranquil life, coming late and lasting little, yet 
full of a harmony and chastened happiness which was to 
this pair, tried by long separation and struggles, like Para- 
dise after Purgatory. They were free from the bond that 
had become intolerable to them. No one could part them 
more or dictate to them where to go, or how long to stay, 
or exact from them any senseless sacrifice. They were 
matured in their religious views, and gradually growing 
more and more ready to give forth the truth that was in 


them according to their own conception of it. Harris 
was swept away from their lives, yet he had been one of 
the stepping-stones to their present clear perception of 
what they thought the highest truth ; and as it was their 
greatest happiness, so was it one of the deepest tenets of 
their belief, that only by their life together, and their 
united impulse, the " breathing together " of their work, 
could they produce to the world what they felt to be the 
best that was in them, and believed to be a new message 
of wonder and blessing. In the radiant clearness of the 
Eastern air, on the edge of the dazzling sea, with the 
homely kindly Germans round them, the wandering poor 
Jews, landing forlorn on their way to colonies only half 
organised, to succour and help, and a little floating circle 
of friends and disciples circling about them, their life 
was very simple but very full. There was no formal 
attempt to form a community like that at Brocton ; but 
their house was hospitable and ever open, and one of their 
dearest aims, or rather hopes, was, as Alice told me, to be 
able to offer a shelter from the winter to such of the 
" dear people at Brocton " as were delicate in health, or 
weary with their laborious life. I imagine that after the 
establishment of Harris in California, Laurence had be- 
come a sort of head of affairs at Brocton, by right prob- 
ably of being the largest landowner among those remain- 
ing there ; for the connection with this place was never 
broken, notwithstanding the complete severance from its 
founder. The accounts of the life at Haifa are modified 
according to the reporters, one visitor representing the 
manage as consisting of a number of nobodies hanging on 
to and living upon the master and mistress of the house ; 
while another laments that the disciples saw the truth 
only through the eyes of Laurence and Alice, in a spiritual 
dependence even more complete than the physical. But 
everything that I have heard of the strangely constituted 
household gives it an aspect of simple cheerfulness and 
pleasant routine, which is soothing and agreeable. It had 
the unusual aspect of a household solely held together and 
actuated by religious unison, yet without religious obser- 
vances or united worship of any kind. The fact that the 


whole soul of the two to whom the house belonged was 
bent upon leavening the world with a knowledge of the 
love of God, and of working together with Him to purify 
and elevate it, and that their main object was to live a 
life like that of Christ in the world, is enough to show 
that in their omission of all those links of common 
doctrine which bind Christian communities together there 
was neither profanity nor neglect, but that in this, as in 
other things, they acted upon principle and conviction. 
What Laurence has said of prayer fully shows his own 
profound understanding of that closest communication of 
which we are capable with the Father of Spirits. I do 
not know upon what ground they rejected all public 
service, probably from a sense of the temptation to make 
a mere show and fiction of religious feeling, a conventional 
necessity, if not a falsehood altogether, of every general 
form. But it was their idea also that work was a thing 
sacred, not as a mere means towards an end, but indeed 
an end in itself, one of the methods of the perfect life. 

" A servant for this cause, 

Makes drudgery divine ; 
Who sweeps a room but by Thy laws 
Makes that and th' action fine." 

They divided among the different members of the family, 
having but limited help in the way of servants, the domestic 
and other duties, one having the charge of the house, another 
of the garden, another of the horses very few in number 
the latter, for their establishment was not extensive in any 
way. And it was in thus serving each the other by daily 
offices of love and practical kindness the " Use " of their 
original foundation that they considered themselves most 
appropriately and continually to worship God. There will 
be many who will no doubt be inclined to say, with the 
highest of all authorities, This might they have done, yet 
not have left the other undone. But this is not the place 
for criticism of their beautiful and blameless lives. 

Haifa was delightful during the winter, and full of simple 
pleasures as well as work. There was no society, it is true, 
but plenty of friendly people, all the more original that 
they knew nothing of society, nor of what we call conven.- 


tional life forgetting that every nation and class has its 
own immovable conventions, stricter often than any known 
in Mayfair. They had a natural ride laid out for them, 
far better than any Rotten Row ten miles of fine and 
shining sands between their village and the little town of 
Acre : they had sea - bathing at their doors. They had 
visitors, now and then a passing cavalcade of travellers, 
something more than tourists, bringing a whiff of home 
and all its naughty ways. It would be curious to count 
the number of known persons above the common, led to 
make that detour out of sympathy and interest, if not 
friendship, who thus glided across their horizon, and 
brought back reports and descriptions of that strange and 
distant home. A row of white gleaming tents on a natural 
terrace, within a stone's-throw of the village street, so 
cheerful and comfortable, and unlike the domed and 
minareted town on the other hand, gave thus an occasional 
change and variety to the scene; and the wistful and 
ragged Jew, homeless and faltering upon the edge of a 
new life, for which nobody could yet tell how much or 
how little he was adapted, made the exercise of pity and 
succour to the destitute an almost daily necessity. The 
American visitor from Brocton, shrewd yet visionary, filled 
up the curious tale of company, along with the Roumanian 
Hebrew, and the quick-witted Syrian of the plain, and the 
Druses from Carmel, and the travellers from Belgravia. 
The two central figures in this curious jumble of nation- 
alities and conditions were equally at home with every 
one of them, and delightful and friendly to all. 

The Druses from Carmel make soon a very marked 
figure among their surroundings. Haifa, notwithstanding 
the sea-breezes, proved too hot for comfort in summer, and 
an expedition was made to the hills in quest of a refuge 
from the hot weather. The low range of Carmel lies behind 
Haifa to the westward a long line of green slopes, folding 
over one another, but with no mountain-head towering 
over them to give them character and importance, as is 
the case with the range of Hermon. Carmel, indeed, is 
gloomy in its woods and dark greenness, from the narrow 
edge of plain that lies between it and the sea ; and it is 


only on ascending the steep and rocky way that leads 
through a picturesque gorge brilliant with flowers, to the 
wide opening and fertile undulations of the summit, that 
the traveller realises its beauty and wealth. It is no steep 
and rugged mountain, as we are apt to suppose, but rather 
a district of rich land scarcely needing to be terraced, not 
more steep than many well - cultivated districts both in 
England and France, but raised upon the shoulders of 
these slopes, as if to separate this fertile and flowery land 
from the common level of the world below. The road from 
Haifa leads along the shore of the beautiful bay for four 
or five miles to the wonderful and gigantic ruins of Athlit, 
the stronghold from which the beaten Crusaders took their 
final departure from Palestine ruins that in their utter 
desolation still look like the work of Titans, and which 
Laurence has admirably described in one of the short 
letters that compose the book called ' Haifa ; or, Life in 
Modern Palestine.' The road from this point turns inland ; 
and after crossing the level for a mile or so, begins the 
ascent, which is no longer practicable to anything on 
wheels. Truth to tell, the waggons of the German col- 
onists, which are the only wheeled vehicles in this part of 
Palestine, are as little suggestive of comfort as any con- 
veyance can possibly be, though they are a wonderful 
resource to that portion of the population, less numerous 
in Syria than among ourselves, which is not happy on 
horseback, or able to spend long days of slow progress in 
the saddle. 

Nothing could be imagined more beautiful than the 
wild and formless track up the hillside through the tangled 
copse and flowery shrubs of the Carmel slopes. Not to 
speak of anemones and cyclamen, and a host of smaller 
flowers, the dazzling spears of the wild hollyhock, and of 
a kind of glorified willow herb, the great bushes of cistus, 
which some botanists take to be the rose of Sharon, the 
sheaves of iris, and a hundred more to which it is difficult 
to give a name, make the path a continual delight. But 
the delight is modified to the rider inexperienced in such 
paths, who has to prick his way up rocky steps, pushing 
through the flowery scrub, and unable to go beyond a foot- 


pace ; and still more to the unfortunate traveller who has 
to be carried upon the shoulders of half-a-dozen wild 
Druses up the prolonged and difficult ascent. My own 
progress in this way (if I may make a momentary personal 
digression) was amusing, if a little nervous work. Start- 
ing dignified, but somewhat dreary, with two bearers who 
carried my chair at a low level, with straps attached to the 
shafts over their shoulders, the advance was very slow and 
the slim Druses easily exhausted. It was at length pro- 
posed by some one that the straps should be done away 
with, and the shafts themselves elevated to the shoulders 
of the bearers, thus admitting of four men to carry the un- 
expected weight. When this change was effected, the work 
became but too easy, the four men being continually re- 
placed by another four, who thrust their volunteer shoul- 
ders under the shafts and ousted the previous carriers with 
what was evidently excellent sport to them, but a little 
alarming to me. Among them was one wild man from the 
Hauran, with coal-black hair and beard and a dark-coloured 
kujfieyeli (the picturesque kerchief with which they cover 
their heads, held on by a sort of fillet of thick black wool- 
len cords), with cheeks slightly tinged with rouge or some 
corresponding colour, and eyes brightened by kohl these 
enhancements of beauty being general among Druse men. 
The others were chosen from among the best men of the 
village, and all wore the red-and-white striped coat which 
is peculiar to the Druse. As we went along, one began to 
play upon the Arab pipe, the most lugubrious of instru- 
ments ; and as we approached the village, where the stony 
track was replaced by the curves of a half-made road, 
several of the men burst forth into a chant in which the 
same words, unfortunately unintelligible to me, were re- 
peated over and over again ; and as the music was accom- 
panied by much " daffing," laughter, and talk among them- 
selves, and the continual pantomimic feat of substituting 
one set of bearers for another, I have no doubt the appear- 
ance of the procession must have been somewhat baccha- 
nalian. Descending on the other side of Carmel, after a 
most dreadful experience of precipitous and almost impos- 
sible paths, one of the shafts of the much-jolted chair at 


last but fortunately not until we had reached the flowery 
plain of Esdraelon broke, and pitched me from the 
shoulders of my astonished bearers on to the grassy though 
stony soil below. Happily there was no harm done ; but 
the childlike dismay and penitence of my poor men, their 
humble and not very effectual, but most sincere and com- 
punctious, attempts to be of use, were amusing enough. 
They had really nothing to be remorseful about, for their 
light-hearted fun had nothing to do with what a few hun- 
dred feet higher up might have been a serious catastrophe. 
This is entirely a personal digression, but it shows some- 
thing of the manner in which the Oliphants had to make 
their summer Sittings to the top of the hill. In the 
chapter called "A Summer Camp on Carmel," Laurence 
has recounted his first exploration of these heights, where 
he found ruined towns and villages on every slope archi- 
tectural remains very different from the mud houses of the 
Druses, who are now the sole inhabitants. The descrip- 
tion of the wonderful prospect from the summit I may 
quote from his narrative. It is taken from Esfia, their 
first camp. 

" On the north-west, distant six miles, curves the Bay 
of Acre, with the town itself glistening white in the dis- 
tance; and on the south-west, distant seven miles, the 
Mediterranean breaks upon the beach that bounds the 
plain of Sharon, and with a good glass I can make out the 
outline of the ruins of the old fort of Csesarea. Southward 
are the confused hills known as the mountains of Samaria; 
beyond them, in the blue haze, I can indistinctly see the 
highlands of Gilead ; while nearer still, Mount Gilboa, 
Mount Tabor, the Nazareth range, with a house or two of 
that town visible, and Mount Hermon rising behind the 
high ranges of northern Galilee, are all comprised in a 
prospect unrivalled in its panoramic extent, and in the 
interest attached to the localities upon which the eye rests 
in every direction." 

The spot in which they finally settled was the village 
of Dalieh, where they built a little house, very small 


and primitive at first, though various additions have been 
made since then. At a later period the discovery was 
made of a great vault excavated by some previous in- 
habitants hundreds of years before, close to the little 
house, in which, in the heart of the blazing summer, such 
visitors as had no fear of snakes and scorpions sometimes 
took refuge. But the house above, though so small, had 
yet some way of expanding to take in a guest or two, like 
the hearts of its inhabitants. And here, I repeat, be- 
tween these two houses Haifa in the winter, Dalieh in 
the summer they spent the happiest portion of their 
lives. Sometimes they explored the endless groups of 
ruins about, from splendid Athlit, with its remains, which 
look like those of the palace and castle of a race of giants, 
to the caves of the shepherds and labourers, and little 
hill-villages of a previous yet not antiquated age, for 
the houses of the East do not change in fashion. And 
Alice Oliphant, with all her intellectual powers, her 
beautiful parole ornate, and all her gifts, was as happy 
winning the hearts of the Druse women, teaching them 
where it proved practicable a little Western lore in the 
shape of domestic comforts, ministering to them in their 
sickness as any queen time-honoured parallel, but 
false enough ; for what queen, with royal cares upon her 
head, could be so happy as this beautiful soul in her little 
kingdom, in the daily occupations of the " Use " which 
made household work a religious exercise, and with all 
those primitive untrained creatures about her, following 
her every movement with admiration, growing a little 
nearer to her by the link of love between them ? It is 
enough to see their great lustrous eyes light up at the 
name of the Sidi Alice, to divine what her living presence 
among them must have been. Laurence, I believe, inter- 
fered with even more immediate efficacy in their affairs, 
taking upon himself the responsibility in respect to the 
exactions of the Turkish Government, which kept the 
village from ruin, and opened to him every sanctuary 
and every heart. 

I may now turn to the little store of letters which throw 
the clearest light upon the first settlement at Haifa, but 


which in the first place seern almost to contradict what 
I have said as to the fact of their being no community 
in the usual sense of the word. They are from Mrs 
Oliphant, and addressed to her mother, Mrs Wynne 

" March 18, 1883. 

" You can have no idea what a busy struggle Mrs 
Cuthbert and I have been having. Just after Laurence 
left us, nearly four weeks ago, for Cairo, we found that 
of our Brocton friends three had not only accepted our in- 
vitation to come here, but were starting at once. I was 
delighted, but have since that moment had to be every 
hour at the back of masons, carpenters, joiners, and 
upholsterers, such as this simple colony of Germans pro- 
vides, besides manoeuvring the preparation of daily re- 
quirements, which requires trouble, as Guy will tell you, 
*in an Eastern country. We now expect them by the 
Alexandria boat hourly, and have managed to make such 
preparations as enable us to pack old Mr Buckner and 
Mrs Fowler into the house, while J. F., son of the latter, 
will sleep at the hotel at first. To Mr Buckner, who 
was once a parson, but who has been for twenty-five 
years meekly serving his Maker, as he believes, in the 
preferable labours of farm and field, this pilgimage is an 
unexpected realisation of a life -long dream ; and it is 
touching to think of the long and painful journey, the first 
of his life, that he makes for it at nearly seventy years 
of age. Both he and Mrs Fowler, a most comfortable 
and responsible assistant to me in household matters, 
are heart and soul devoted to the effort we ourselves 
are making to establish a rational and humane manner 
of life on a basis wider than that of personal, national, 
or sectarian interests ; and they are anxious to help us 
to test the advantages of this country over others for 
pursuing the experiment, seeing with us that it unites 
many elements of interest, health, and freedom that it 
is good and unusual to find combined. J. F. comes to 
see us rather as his mother's guest than as an actual 
associate, being of a charming active nature, delighted to 


attempt any kind of pioneering of a material character, 
but neither given to moral cares nor to speculations as 
to the hidden issues of the age. . . . Mr Buckner will 
relieve us of all our account-keeping anxieties at once, and 
will also take the responsibility of the farming of the 
little property that belongs to the house, off Laurence. 

" It was so good of you to think of offering me pretty 
things, dear mamma. You could not possibly go wrong 
in bestowing anything of beauty, from a picture to a 
frying-pan, on me, if you did not miss it ; for we have 
to be very careful just now to confine our outlay to 
barest necessities, and those of the roughest sort, so that 
every scrap which adds a little grace to our surroundings, 
or a little ease to our work, is of infinite consolation. 
We have just been arranging our own two portraits 
(mine by Madame de Eechten), as at present our prin- 
cipal sitting-room ornaments, with our little Paris ttag&re 
of marqueterie, and a set of four book-shelves along one 
wall ; and you don't know how wonderfully civilised that, 
with our own plate and linen, makes us feel, in spite 
of horrid common crockery and other discrepancies. In 
about a year I shall hope to be able to send for respect- 
able crockery, and I should prefer, at this distance from 
a matching-place, to keep entirely, when I can afford it, 
to the pure solid French china. English stone china is 
villanous when chipped, and not good enough looking un- 
less coloured, in which case there would be endless worry 
in re-matching after breakages. 

"Our building prevents us this year from managing 
either a piano or carriage ; but we shall have all such little 
extra pleasures by the time Guy brings you to see us. I 
am very happy, indeed, at beginning to gather round me 
here some of those collaborateurs of my inner life who are 
so inexpressibly dear to my heart. It is really the scheme 
of a railway from here through the Hauran (the grain 
region), and later to Damascus, and the putting it into 
English financial control, that has taken Laurence to Egypt ; 
but he keeps it quiet at present, not to excite opposition. 
It would open up this part of the coast to a great com- 
mercial future if he succeeded." 


It is scarcely needful to say that this scheme, which 
seems to commend itself to all who are interested in the 
country, and which would interfere with none of those 
hallowed memories which make us shrink from the idea of 
a railway to Jerusalem, has not yet gone any further. The 
road to Damascus, made under French auspices in 1860, is 
an admirable one, and has made that wonderful and beau- 
tiful place accessible to many ; but a railway would be, I 
am told on all hands, new life to a country teeming with 
productions which it would open out to the world. 

The two portraits above mentioned as adorning the sit- 
ting-room hang there still, forlorn in the unoccupied place, 
one of them a fine manly portrait of Laurence in a gown 
of dark velvet like a Venetian noble, by Henry Phillips ; 
the other a charming youthful picture of Alice. Almost all 
else has disappeared, the inmates every one, the heads of 
the house into far-separated graves. Even the pretty fur- 
niture that made the room look " wonderfully civilised " is 
gone too ; but still these two images of the departed hang 
on the wall, sorrowful reminders of a joint existence swept 
away into the still levels of the past. 

Another letter contains further accounts of their settle- 
ment. The strangers had arrived, and were "delighted 
with climate and surroundings." 

" The general sense of homeness increases with the im- 
provement of the garden, the purchase of a horse, cow, 
pigs, &c., even with the adoption of a little dog, and the 
advent into the kitchen wood-box of ' home-made ' kittens ; 
while a pleasant incursion was made yesterday by the 
Wynfords, who found us sitting down to breakfast, and 
took it with us while their ship was un- ' and re-loaded, en 
route between Beyrout and Port Said. She will give you 
more satisfactory and detailed descriptions in her graphic 
way than I can write. And I am principally pleased with 
this visit on account of the facility it will enable you to 
have of picturing us and our friends in this pleasant place. 

" I forgot to answer your question about our hours in 
my last letter. We observe the same intervals as English 
people at home for meals, only we devancer them by two 


hours. 7.30, breakfast; 12, lunch; 3, tea; 6, dinner; 8, 
tea. Half-past six is the latest hour when people corae 
out of their rooms, old Mr Buckner setting forth with his 
hoe among the Indian corn and potatoes at half-past six ; 
and the mornings are now so delicious that I shall get 
up earlier myself, I foresee, and rest in the afternoon to 
make it possible. Mrs Fowler and Mrs Cuthbert and I 
have divided up responsibilities as follows : Mrs F., super- 
intendence of housemaid, linen, mending clothes for all ; 
Mrs C., ditto, ditto, laundry, chickens, flower department 
(only embryo as yet) of garden ; Alice, as you will guess, 
food. By about 10 I have made the menu, prepared the 
bread (every second day), done the more delicate prepara- 
tions, as of croquettes, pies, puddings; and have cut up 
and distributed the different parts of the fresli meat to the 
soup-pot, roasting-pau, dripping-pot (the household econ- 
omy depending more upon this process than upon any 
other), and am then able to hand over baking of bread and 
finishing of lunch and dinner to my German girl, and have 
the rest of the morning for writing or other work. 

" Now the general arrangements of a life to organise use 
it up very much. After lunch we manage for ourselves 
the washing of actual plates and dishes, the 'girl' having 
gone home to her own dinner after washing saucepans and 
leaving the kitchen clean. This and setting away the food 
from the table takes at most about twenty or thirty 
minutes, and then we generally rest completely till three. 
After tea I give just now a German lesson to all the others 
to start them in the language. And about four we scatter 
about Laurence and J. F. for walks or rides ; I ride some- 
times, trot up or down the village street, do some little 
business, or a sick visit, or ' play a tune ' upon the village 
schoolroom piano. We shall soon hire a little trap of 
some kind, to give us a little more change of air as the 
warm weather advances. After dinner Laurence reads to 
us, or we read to ourselves. If I am pretty fresh, I con- 
sider the aspect of the larder-shelves awhile, or a quiet 
neighbour looks in for an hour's chat. I consider myself 
entitled to slip off to bed any time after eight o'clock tea, 
and Laurence, who is the latest, is rarely later than ten." 


The reader may perhaps again feel inclined to wonder 
a little how the employment of Alice Oliphant a woman 
so brilliant and eloquent, so made to fascinate and impress 
society (where avowedly there is so much need of every 
improving influence) in washing dishes could be to the 
advantage of the world ; but there seems a sort of imper- 
tinence in the question in the face of her own strong and 
happy conviction, and of the sunshine of that life at Haifa, 
where also what she believed to be the highest outcome 
of her life was soon to come. 

In August I find an account of the journey to Esfia, the 
Druse village on Carmel where they spent their summer 
encamped in tents, though they afterwards left this place 
for Dalieh. Mrs Oliphant gives a pretty account of the 
journey which she made, being ill, in the chair which I 
have already described ; and of the setting up of the en- 
campment, with the vault adjacent, which they made their 
reception-room and meeting-place, and the big black Be- 
douin tent, which they adapted and augmented with bright- 
coloured mats to make a dining-room. Here is a notice, 
however, which the reader would be sorry to miss : 

" Various acquaintances from the colony will come for 
a day or two at a time and pay us a visit. General 
Gordon (of China and Soudan celebrity), who passed a 
day or two at Haifa to see us, is coming to pitch his own 
tent near us. We were very much taken with him, and 
he and L., though they had not met since Laurence was 
a young man in China, seem to feel like two old friends. 
They say it must be because they are each considered 
' one of the craziest fellows alive ' ! " 

One would have liked to hear more of this meeting. 
It took place immediately after that strange holiday in 
his fighting life, when Gordon went to Jerusalem to make 
mystic measurements and theories, and indulge for once 
the dreamy side of his valiant soul. To have heard those 
two crazy fellows talking, as they wandered by the edge 
of the sunlit sea, would have been something to remember. 
They might not agree in their talk, did not, indeed, as 


we shall see, for Laurence cared little about Jerusalem, 
and his mystic dreams had no connection with holy events 
or sacred places. But in their hearts they agreed upon 
the greater questions the world that lay in wickedness, 
and the hopes of new revelation and better things; the 
dawning of great light, which seemed already to have 
touched their own heads, as the first rays of the sunrising 
touch the hills. I do not know that Gordon was ever able 
to fulfil that prospect, and pitch his tent upon Carmel; 
but his footstep is among the traces of those other feet on 
the sands, and by the village paths of Haifa, where they 
walked, and talked of all things impossible the great rev- 
olution to be accomplished from falsehood to truth, from 
hatred to love, the turning of all the earth from evil to 
the love of God and His service, impossible, yet by His 
grace one day to be most true. 

"Gordon Pasha," Laurence wrote shortly after, 17th 
February (1884), " started from here for Brussels, and we 
had many- talks over Soudan matters. I fail to see how 
he is to escape the fate of poor Palmer and Gill ; and he 
goes because he is ordered as a soldier, not because he be- 
lieves in his mission. I heard from him not long before 
he left England. He is a man after my own heart." One 
other allusion to a name of so much interest was made by 
Alice two months later : " We had a nice, long, very hope- 
ful letter," she says, " of the 1st April, from General Gordon 
from Khartoum. He thinks a war by the slaves will in a 
year or two break out, and solve that question of slave- 
trade in a manner entirely unexpected by the world." 

I may add one other letter, addressed to Mrs Walker, 
descriptive of the Haifa household, before this simple 
record ends. 

" HAIFA, January 2, 1885. 

" It hardly seems a minute since I left you all ; and a 
word from either of you brings me instantly amid all the 
happiness which you made for me in the delightful atmos- 
phere of your home. This winter think of us as being 
composed again of a pleasant little party viz., our two 
selves; my youngest brother, Guy le Strange, an ardent 


Arabic scholar, who sleeps and works in two quiet rooms 
he has taken in the little German hotel opposite, and 
spends all the rest of his time with us ; Mrs Fowler, a dear, 
meek, old Brocton body, who assumes as her special func- 
tion the mending ; my dear friend Mrs Cuthbert, of whom 
you know, who is head-gardener and chicken-keeper, and 
universal sister of charity to the sick and weak ; old Dr 
and Mrs Martin, 1 whom we have just called from their 
post at Brocton, and who will, we trust, not leave us or 
our neighbourhood here again ; and a young, cheery, little 
Mrs Casey, who came out to nurse Mrs Martin on the 
way, and will return to New York in the spring, after seeing 
this country. Ernest Buckner returns by this boat, after 
a year's visit, pleasant to him and to us, to resume charge 
of all that belongs to us at Brocton. The Government's 
fear of Mr Oliphant being charged with some political 
mission from England makes it almost impossible for us 
to buy much land here at present, so we are still holding 
a good deal at Brocton, enough to need young and vigorous 
administration ; otherwise, we had rather hoped to transfer 
Ernest's field of operations here. 

" Our days pass very uniformly and very busily. . . . 
The principal variations to our simple programme occur 
in the shape of business talks or trips to the little town, 
longer rides or drives for exploratory purposes, and visits 
from people passing through, who bring us messages from 
friends far afield." 

There are other pleasant details about the summer life 
among the hills "three whole months in a tent on a 
breezy hill-top " among the primitive people, " the little 
nation or sect " of the Druses, " which is very much at- 
tached to the very name of everything English, and has 
also everywhere a special character for honesty, so that 
they make good neighbours and protectors for us ; " where 

1 The reader may be interested to know that two survivors of this united 
party, Mrs Cuthbert and Dr Martin the last remnant of Brocton, and of 
many hopes that seem to have fallen to the ground for ever still live in 
the old house of the Oliphants at Dalieh, in the mountain village of the 
Druses, exercising an affectionate guardianship still over those simple and 
tender-hearted people on the Carmel slopes. 


they "explored in many directions, entirely escaping all 
suffering from summer heat ; " and where there was time 
even for a little tough study, as well as many beautiful 
thoughts. "Tell Guy I am beginning to master Prof. 
Palmer's hard grammar a little, and really like the pre- 
cision and noble scale of formation of Arabic. But what 
a far higher mental calibre must have been possessed by 
the people who constructed the language than any mass 
of Orientals own to-day ! " Further arrivals from Brocton 
are announced in the same letter one gentleman coming 
" who is the principal agent for our property there, and 
has certain shares in it/' and who is " the best practical 
farmer in our little co-operative organisation. We want 
his opinion about the agricultural prospect here, and 
advice how far to push that branch of industry ; " while 
another comes to " take a rest after many years of hard 
business work in New York, but will keep his eyes open 
about mercantile operations, which we think can even be 
opened up between this place and the United States in 
course of time." I do not know that much was made of 
any of these schemes, except, perhaps, at Dalieh, where 
in subsequent years improvements of cultivation were 
introduced into the vineyards, and new kinds of agricul- 
tural produce. Amid all their schemes there was, how- 
ever, one which had been like seed in a good soil. " Never 
mind about what looks like the failure of the Palestine 
scheme," Mrs Laurence writes; "it is in reality making sure 
progress." It had come to no joint-stock company, and 
no grand concession had been obtained ; but over all the 
country Jew settlements were springing up, the future 
action and influence of which it may take many years 
still to decide. The scheme had been like the grain in 
the fields, dying only to come up in varied life. 

" Have you seen," Mrs Oliphant continues, recurring to 
less practical subjects, " Sinnett's book, ' Esoteric Buddh- 
ism ' ? I don't know how widely it is either admired or 
criticised, but numbers of people write to Laurence about 
the contents in both senses. His skit on it, which should 
be, he thinks, in the January ' Blackwood,' is called " The 
Sisters of Thibet," and will interest you, if the book had 


done so in any way. I could not read it through ; but 
other people seem to be quite fascinated by its occultism." 
" The Sisters of Thibet," I may add, was published, not in 
'Black wood' but in the ' Nineteenth Century,' and after- 
wards formed part of the little volume called ' Fashionable 

I may here quote one of Laurence's letters upon the 
book above-mentioned, which will bring us back to the 
other side of the life which was so pleasant and cheerful 
in its external aspect. It would be giving a false im- 
pression of that life if it were allowed to be supposed that 
the household work and arrangements, the agriculture, the 
colonies, the dash of Eastern politics, occupied all their 
thoughts. The very reverse was the case, as indeed the 
most wonderful proof of that mystic union and oneness of 
inspiration which was their most characteristic belief 
and of the office of the woman in reaching the mysteries 
of religious truth, which Laurence had so pressed upon 
the consciousness of his betrothed bride in the months 
before their marriage, was now about to come. I open 
the other side of that fair and bright life, having now 
made the reader acquainted with its happy exterior, in 
the following exposition of another mystic but never 
vulgar faith, contained in the following letter, which was 
addressed to Miss Hamilton, a relative of his own, in 
reply to certain questions: 

" HAIFA, SYRIA, 15th October. 

" You are not the only one of my friends who has been 
fascinated by ' Esoteric Buddhism,' indeed one of them 
is going out to India to become a Mahatma himself if he 
can. When the Theosophical Society was first founded 
by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott, both of whom I 
know, and others, I was asked to become a member of it ; 
but I had reasons at the time, which I have since found 
to be sound, which prevented me from identifying myself 
with it in any way. I believe the whole thing to be a 
delusion and a snare. Mr Sinnett himself, in the 10th 
page of his book, describes why it is so. What he says of 
the 'cultivated devotees' of India is true of the Thibet 


Brothers as well. The founders of the system, long before 
Christ, built up ' a conception of nature, the universe, and 
God, entirely on a metaphysical basis, and have evolved 
their systems by sheer force of transcendent thinking': 
passing into the other world, they retained these delusions, 
with which they continued to impregnate their disciples 
in this. As time went on, the Spiritual Society increased, 
forming a sort of heaven or Devachan, and in a higher 
degree a Nirvana of their own, conditions which have no 
real existence except in the brains of those who retain in 
after-life the absorbed and contemplative mental attitude 
they acquired in this, and which they call subjective. 
Though how, if, as they do, one admits that everything 
in nature is material, you can separate objectivity from 
subjectivity is difficult to imagine. Practically the cultiva- 
tion of what they call the ' sixth sense ' means losing the 
control of the other five. Thus a preliminary for entering 
into the mysteries is that the neophyte goes into trance 
conditions. In other words, his five senses are magnetised, 
and he becomes the sport of any delusions in this condi- 
tion which may be projected upon his hypnotised con- 
sciousness by the invisibles ; and as these form a compact 
society, the images which are produced and the impres- 
sions that are conveyed are similar in character : just as 
a bigoted Swedenborgian in a trance condition would be 
certain to have all his religious impressions confirmed 
by an 'intromission into scenes such as those described by 
Swedenborg. I have been for seventeen years in intimate 
association with those who sought to derive knowledge 
from such sources, and have some personal experience of 
my own in the matter, and have come to the conclusion 
that nothing is reliable which is received while the organ- 
ism is in an abnormal condition. 

" Although Mr Sinnett gives an explanation of spiritual 
mediumship which is right in some respects, and plausible 
where it is wrong, the Mahatmas and Eishis are nothing 
more or less than mediums ; and where they are mistaken 
is, in thinking that the beings in the other world are un- 
conscious of what happens to people in this, while in fact 
they are constantly engaged in consciously projecting their 


influence upon them, either for good or for bad. While 
a Buddhist occultism is infinitely higher than any form 
of spiritualism, or rather spiritism, that is known, it is 
nothing more than the highest development of it ; but in 
order to avoid this imputation, it pretends to describe the 
phenomena of modern spiritism, not touching, however, 
those phases of it which Mr Sinnett's explanations would 
altogether fail to account for. The radical vice of the 
system, however, is that by concentrating universal effort 
on subjectivity, it is utterly useless as a moral agent in 
this world. A religion which says that because our objec- 
tive existence is as 1 to 80 to our subjective existence, 
therefore all man's moral and physical needs here are un- 
worthy of notice, is itself to my mind unworthy of notice. 
The foundation of it is egotism, the teaching the Nirvanic 

" What we are seeking for is a force which shall enable 
us to embody in daily life such simple ethics as those of 
Christ, which were based on altruism, and which no one 
after 1800 years of effort has succeeded in doing, for want 
of adequate spiritual potency. If some of us, myself in- 
cluded, have come into an abnormal physical condition, it 
was not with a view of finding out occult mysteries about 
the cosmogony of the world, but of seeking to discover a 
force which one could bring down and apply to the physi- 
cal needs of this one. It was in this effort I found that 
trance and abnormal physical conditions were unreliable, 
though I am far from saying that the experiences gained 
through them may not be turned to good account, or that 
certain truths even may not be acquired ; but unless these 
truths are afterwards susceptible of verification while in 
full possession of all our natural faculties, they should not 
be received or acted upon as truths. Nor is it possible to 
engage in the search for such truths (with no other motive 
but that of benefiting humanity, regardless of what may 
happen to one's self) without becoming conscious of an 
overruling and guiding intelligence an idea entirely 
foreign to the Pantheistic system, upon which the Buddhist 
Esoteric science (which should not be confounded with 
pure Buddhism) is based, and which makes the Deity a 


sort of universal grinding-machine with no independent 
faculty of action or volition. However, this subject is too 
long and complicated to be treated in a letter ; but I am 
glad it has been the means of procuring me a letter from 
you, and of giving me the opportunity of saying how much 
pleasure it would give, both to my wife and myself, if 
either you or your brother, or both together, could pay us 
a visit in our home in Palestine, when we could talk over 
those deeply interesting subjects, and I could read you the 
results of our many years' efforts and experience, which 
are now being written, though I am not able to say when 
or under what conditions they will be published." 

The following curious exposition of their life and doc- 
trine, in the visionary and abstract terms always employed, 
which they were in the habit of communicating freely to 
all inquirers, and they were many, who came to them 
may, and probably will, interest many readers. Eepeated 
examples of the same kind of answers to other questions, 
like these in categorical form, long letters full of similar 
discourses (I scarcely know what word to use : I cannot 
say information, nor would it be possible to use the word 
doctrine) in reply to vague inquiries are preserved among 
their papers. I give the following only as a specimen of 
much of the same description which remains behind. 


1. What are the first steps to be taken towards a more perfect 
life of love and knowledge and power ? 

That love, knowledge, and power, which belong by nature to 
the human being, will most rapidly evolve in him, as he holds 
himself most free to discern in himself and put forth in humanity 
that individual spiritual emotion which in all ages has consti- 
tuted the real motive power of great souls, and which in the 
present time holds possession of the breasts of men, because of the 
maturing period in which we live. Love, knowledge, and power, 
if they do not appear in every man, are within him stifled ; and 
the phenomena of the social, intellectual, and religious life of the 
nineteenth century are for the most part to be referred to the 
struggles of this advanced type of manhood to escape out of 


those methods of living, thinking, and aspiring which have 
served their time in other generations, but have now become 
anachronisms. We need take no other steps towards a perfect life 
of love, knowledge, and power than these : simply to note the 
love, knowledge, and power that is spontaneous in us, and con- 
vert it into living that is, action, which action is at all times 
to be determined by the needs of our fellow-creatures, in order 
that we may work at the great body of humanity, to effect more 
equal distribution of the pure vital current throughout its form. 

2. Is it well to investigate with free unprejudiced mind all the 
paths that seem to lead to solutions of spiritual mysteries ? 

All unprejudiced investigation is likely to be valuable, pro- 
vided only two conditions are observed. First, that truth be 
sought for the betterment of the whole world, and not for any 
individual satisfaction or consolation ; secondly, that the investi- 
gator allows no fact suggested or revealed to influence him, un- 
less the opinion he deduces from it receives the strong intuitive 
sanction of his own purest emotion. 

The first condition arises imperatively out of the simple fact 
that each man is by his feeling, his joy, his sorrow, his desire, an 
indissoluble fragment of the vast human universe, and that there 
is no law of human nature by which it could be possible for him 
as an individual, and to the exclusion of others, to be truly pos- 
sessed of a perfect method of life. When happiness is tempor- 
arily experienced by the gratification of higher or lower egotistical 
instincts along the whole range of them, from highest spiritual 
ecstasy to lowest physical sensualism, that happiness is merely 
maintained because the gratification acts as an opiate, numbing 
the greater number of the man's faculties and stunting his true 
full growth. Later in this life, or after the dissolution of his 
earthly wrappages, the growth thus arrested must be resumed ; 
for the universal human being must evolve, and then the agony 
of starving the faculties which have developed into monstrosities, 
till the neglected dormant altruistic faculties reattain develop- 
ment, is great in proportion to the meanness of that which was 
illegitimately fostered. 

The second condition is imperative, because each man, while 
he claims nothing but a method of making the universal good, 
may not safely receive anything into his mind from the outside 
that is to say, from other men without submitting it to his 
spiritual part. If the subject-matter which he touches by in- 
vestigations pursued for unselfish ends be of a quality to assist 
his spiritual progress, he is keenly and clearly conscious of his 


spirit's recognition of that fact ; for it glows within him at the 
contact of truth like that which it produces, and urges him to let 
that increase of truth in him flow forth in action to his fellow- 
creatures. If the facts reached by research offend his own in- 
tuitions, they are, whether true or false, unfit for the time being 
for his contemplation ; they create profitless wear and tear in his 
fine internal organism, and draw his unready energies into chan- 
nels where they waste. Or if, in a third case, the subject-matter 
of the investigation, exciting in him neither attraction nor re- 
pulsion, gives rise only to distress, because he neither loves nor 
hates the possible truth, and therefore cannot know by private 
judgment whether it be true, this is a sign that there is nothing 
in the pursuit in question which really feeds a present need 
of his spirit ; this is a sign that that spirit is seeking to make 
other promptings for other class of work, and that he is wasting 

3. Are vegetarian diet and temperance essential in order to 
purify the body for high spiritual impressions and com- 
munications ? 

The prejudice in favour of vegetarian diet and abstinence from 
alcoholic drink, though harmless in its effect as practised on cer- 
tain constitutions, produces in the case of others very dangerous 
diminution of the vital powers, creating openings in the deplete 
organism for access of spirits from intermediate states, who feed 
on the nervous elements of men. To impose it, or even urge it, 
implies as from man to man the taking of a very grave responsi- 
bility, though it has doubtless served in the hands of the deeply 
experienced at difficult junctures as a spiritual medicine. The 
shield of safety against mistakes lies, in reference to this practice 
as to every other, only in that attitude of mind in which the ex- 
periment is made namely, if its object is the service of all 
others, and it is attempted with a profound sense of man's in- 
capacity for correct opinion. At the start of universal devel- 
opment to which this century is rapidly ripening mankind, the 
equable balance of all the forces that play throughout the human 
organisation, expanding from the deep interior spirit to the out- 
most frame, will be best maintained, and it will be found that 
man's strength to think for and act for the world, for whose 
progress he shares the responsibility, will be best preserved if he 
utilises wisely all the means present in that world for invigor- 
ating the outer body which connects him with its surfaces. Of 
these things the One of incomparable wisdom said, ' Not that 
which goeth into the mouth defileth the man.' 


4. WJiat is tJie immediate destiny of a soul just left this earth, 

loving and beloved ? 

The craving to ascertain the nature of future experiences after 
accomplishment of earth service is, like many other cravings, not 
incidental to healthy normal human nature, and only accompanies 
a one-sided development of faculty. In practice many people at 
the present day do, without craving or seeking, see and com- 
municate with those who have left this earth externally, but 
whose hearts are indissolubly welded into theirs, and learn that, 
except for the film of flesh that overlaid each particle of the vital 
form, life continues at first without extraordinary sense in each 
individual of any change, but in conditions which are obviously 
not accurately nor clearly definable to the minds of those on 
earth ; but to seek this information by a private act of will is in 
the last degree prejudicial to a true receiving of it, offering the 
readiest of all means of access to the outer organism by impor- 
tunate spirits. Those natures who, by outworking of the divinest 
thing that they can find within themselves to follow and obey, 
hold within them such a well-spring of perennial happiness that 
there remains no power to wonder or crave, they know that in 
due time they will know all, and know that knowledge that 
withholds itself would impair the equilibrium of their present con- 
stitution : they feel themselves in eternity, and are not in haste. 

5. Are there any spiritualistic communications to be relied upon? 

No information received by human experience, whether spirit- 
ualistic or materialistic, is to be relied on as conveying finality 
of truth ; none is to be dreaded if acquired in the true mental 
attitude. That people do see, feel, and communicate with spirits 
of all degrees of elevation and degradation is unquestionable to 
any one who has incurred, even without will-act, such experience, 
as fever is an unquestionable fact to those who have been struck 
down by it. 

I may add here a few sentences of a similar purport 
from one of Alice's letters. The subject is much more 
universally interesting than any metaphysical inquiries : 

" As you say, it is impossible not to yearn sometimes 
for the day when the partings will cease. They so lacer- 
ate and tear one's very core. Yet except at weak mo- 
ments I realise more and more that these pains belong 
only to the impatience of our outer natures, not to our 
essential part, which remains joined to all that it has ever 


bound to itself with the magnet power of love. And I 
also realise as the true sentiment of my being, the un- 
fluctuating and the deep, the love of doing what God 
wants done for the people in the world so of course I 
know that to have a formulated wish about living or 
dying, having others live or die, having sickness or health 
or sorrow or delight, would be nonsense, and a mere con- 
cession to the superficial impulse. My increasing sense 
is certainly that we are all put and held, or clearly direc- 
ted to, the place where we can serve most some frag- 
ments of the world's great need, and certainly the love- 
power of our darlings who are withdrawn from their 
husking is an immense addition to our power in this life, 
for I can feel the love for the world that they pour through 
us has the magnitude as well as the sweetness of its puri- 
fied condition. I can therefore understand much better 
than formerly why they are required for the grand force 
combination that can work with us on ' the other side,' 
even though it may seem they were wanted on this side 
too. They are joined to the army of high intelligences that 
work with and through us for the universal progress." 

In the minute and laborious way of which I have 
given an example did Laurence put himself at the com- 
mand of those who resorted to him. Whether these 
communications were dictated by his wife or were his 
own work alone, I am unable to say. I quote them as 
characteristic of the answers they gave together to .many 

It must have been early in their stay at Haifa that the 
mystic volume, most curious and least intelligible of all 
his productions, yet by dint of these very qualities most 
impressive to the audience to which it addressed itself, 
' Sympneumata ' was produced. Laurence told me him- 
self, on his next return to England, the story of its origin. 

He had felt himself, he said, in a sort of restless ex- 
citation, full of the idea of writing something, but quite 
unable when he took his pen in his hand to gather to- 
gether or express his ideas, and unable to give any reason 
for this mingled desire and incapacity, when his wife 
suddenly called him, and told him- that there was some- 


thing in her mind to which she desired to give expression, 
if he would put it down for her. They then began to- 
gether, she dictating, but he so entirely in accord that he 
would sometimes finish the sentence she had begun. It 
was, however, so much her work that, after a chapter or 
two had been completed, he suggested to her that she 
should go on with it alone, which she attempted to do, 
but soon found herself, as he had been before, incapable 
of expressing the ideas of which her mind was full. He 
then resumed the pen, both of them feeling that it was 
intended to be their joint work ; and thus the book was 
written. I wish I could feel any enthusiasm about this 
book, or even could say that I understood it. The strange 
story of its origin is very attractive to the imagination, 
and they were a pair from whom one would gladly have 
accepted teaching; and a number of people did so, I 
am told: indeed I am acquainted with some to whom 
this strange work came like a veritable voice from heaven. 
There is something in its confused and tortuous phrase- 
ology so unlike the incisive clearness of Laurence's ordi- 
nary style, so very different from the wonderful beauty of 
his wife's personal speech, that a perplexing sense of the 
toppling over, if one may use such an expression, of over- 
strained human faculty from the heights which it was 
vainly endeavouring to reach beyond, is in the mind of 
the reader vainly endeavouring to understand, as they 
were to express, something beyond the range of flesh and 
blood. When sublimity is not attained in such an effort, 
one knows the melancholy alternative ; and there has 
seldom been a work which has more exercised the general 
mind accustomed to receive with delight everything that 
bore Laurence Oliphant's name more disappointed friends, 
or more satisfied those critics who dismissed him as one of 
the craziest fellows alive, and his faith and hope as the 
aberrations of a mind, on these points, hopelessly astray. 

From their own point, however, this work was the ful- 
filment both of their theories and hopes : a something re- 
vealed to the woman, communicated to the world by the 
man, mystic truth only to be established in that way, only 
so to be taught with full efficacy to the world, which was 


at once the justification of their union and the reward of 
their self-denial. This was how they themselves thought 
of it, in a kind of ecstasy of accomplished work and tremu- 
lous humble satisfaction. It was the method in which they 
had always hoped and expected that the great things they 
had to do for the world were to be done. Advice to others, 
spiritual counsel, direction in the right way, could only be 
perfectly given by him, the husband and public expositor, 
when he held actually if possible, if not at least meta- 
phorically, his wife's hand; but they had not hoped, so 
far as I can make out, that they were to be permitted 
thus to reveal in writing their new light to the world. It 
came to them as a heavenly surprise, the last complete 
and perfect proof of that counterpartal union which for a 
time they had doubted a doubt which plunged them, as 
the reader has seen, into the darkest uncertainty for a 
time, the very valley of the shadow. But after that joint 
work at Haifa and Dalieh, that work which neither could 
accomplish alone, grand proof at once and outcome of the 
spiritual marriage, doubt could exist no longer. Happily 
it had departed before, along with the tyranny that prob- 
ably suggested it. Now the facts were proved, verified, 
and brought to such manifestation as no one had hoped. 
And it seemed to both that they had found at last between 
them, in the way which they had already concluded was 
the only way that help could come, the lever that was to 
move the world, They felt themselves to have taken up, 
and to be completing by a new and special means, the 
work of Christ ; yet not presumptuously, as making them- 
selves His equals, but as His instruments in the work 
which He had begun. To be able to believe this, which 
they did most sincerely and with the full force of their 
being, strengthened by all the circumstances of their 
mutual labour, might well uplift into a rapture of spiritual 
elation and joy the wedded souls to whom this great 
acknowledgment of God's use for them and favour had 

The book was sent to the publisher, with a letter describ- 
ing its origin and the manner in which the authors wished 
it presented to the world. 



"HAIFA, IZth May [1884]. 

" I am sending you by book-post the manuscript of a 
book which I want published, but which I doubt whether 
you will care to undertake indeed I do not want it pub- 
lished in the ordinary way, as it is not an ordinary book. 
It is the result of the efforts of the last twenty years of 
my life, and contains what so many of my critics have 
been anxious I should tell them, what I really believe, 
what I have been at all this time, what the result of all 
this ' mysticism/ as they call it, amounts to. In fact, it is 
a confession of faith, and certainly deals with a novel class 
of subjects [the letter here is unfortunately torn] ... I 
have been the amanuensis, and so far as it could never 
have been written without me or through any other hand, 
I am the joint author. At all events, I assume the re- 
sponsibility of its contents, and have written the Preface, 
as editor, to say so. Now as to the publication, I should 
like it to be published for me. I should like to know 
what it would cost to print a thousand copies, for which I 
would pay the full expense and whether you would print 
it for me. I should not wish it advertised in the usual 
way, nor have any copies sent to reviews. . . . The class 
which will read it is a comparatively small though growing 
one, and I should like it to make its own way quietly and 
probably slowly. I believe, if published in the usual way, 
it would make something of a sensation, and bring down 
showers of criticism and ridicule : this, though I am not 
afraid of it, I don't court, though it would sell the book, 
but that is not my object." 

The following letter, written by Laurence in reply to a 
lady who had written to him with sympathy and under- 
standing, though without having "personal use for the 
whole thought of ' Sympneumata ' as we have felt obliged 
and charged to lay it before the world," will give an idea 
of his own feeling about the revelation while yet the thrill 
of its production was fresh in his mind. 


"DALIEH, July 4, 1885. 

" The experiences were so long and so extraordinary, yet 
many of them of a nature that could not at once become 
universal nor consistent with the present constitution 
of man, because of the excessive strain entailed by them, 
which confirmed the apprehension of the biune character 
of our being that I know it must at best appear as a 
hypothetical idea for many people for a long while, or rest 
as a vague basis of life-theories in their minds. And I 
believe that whatever the clearness of my perception of the 
subject, nothing could have made it possible to launch it 
with the frail and imperfect vehicle of printed words to 
carry it upon the social mind, but the instinct that arose 
as the result of work among the weakest and most tempted 
of human beings, to whose salvation at this date I know 
no other doctrine than this could serve. It seems very 
hard to have to remember always in striving to call down 
God's fire of purity, that it streams as an atmosphere into 
a vacuum, towards all that is most foul and grievous in 
social ills. But who are we that we should be fastidious, 
and dread to see and know the laws of life -operations ? 
What are we that we should dare to be satisfied with sur- 
face-decency, when we ought, like the light of God, to probe 
the darkness of caverns wherever they be ? Yet, with our 
natural cowardice and superficiality, we dislike to remember 
always those very things in human earth-life that inspira- 
tions and progressions come to eradicate. 

"This holding of sad facts before the mind it is that 
makes the martyrdom to be accepted daily, even while 
the glory of the heavens opens daily upon us nay, be- 
cause that glory opens! Not to rest upon the sight of 
heavenliness, not to linger in regions of poetic sweetness, 
only to learn the lesson of it all, and carry it on to the 
dark depths of morbid life on earth, has been the hard 
strain of many years, which yields as the result to all 
men that the sex question must and can be met and 
solved in the generations that begin: that in the con- 
cealed nucleus of social living and propagation, even 
there it is holy and pure love that will cleanse alone and 


only. But to say it, is wellnigh impossible: it has to 
be veiled and covered over, not to make it too distressing 
for all those who have not seen the glory, and only know 
the grievous perversion of life-facts. Sometimes it seems 
impossible to go on being apostles of such teachings, just 
because of the bearing they have upon the very roots of 
social disorder that is, sin on earth ; yet how unreason- 
able one is to fear, or feel too weak, and to be puzzled 
about the ways and means by which the truths or glim- 
merings of truths one sees shall be propounded." 

Other letters of this description might be repeated 
almost to any extent. It may perhaps be well to show 
how he replied to some who were not in sympathy with 
his views or work. He had, it need scarcely be said, 
many protests and remonstrances, as well as much en- 
couragement, after the publication of the singular book 
in which, as he believed, the problem of humanity was 
for almost the first time treated as it ought to be. The 
letter which I now quote was in reply to a very long, 
serious, and interesting letter, in which his book was 
elaborately discussed. 

"Your letter of September 23 reached me yesterday, 
and I have not ceased since it came into my hands to 
consider whether I know of any answer to the appeal 
contained in it that could relieve the anxiety you express. 
I think I do not. This anxiety on the part of a large 
number of the best, highest, and most earnest people of 
the refined intellectual type has constituted the greatest 
difficulty in uttering the message that I am set upon the 
world (so far as I can understand God's will) to utter. 
This anxiety will be the most formidable obstacle to the 
completion of the utterance. All that you say and more 
has stood before me for years as the protest against my 
almost solitary duty which it has most hurt me to with- 
stand. "Word for word nearly all that you say rises as 
the long familiar wail of the good, the pure, and the 
aspiring, who do not feel that they are made to notice 
the regions of hell-like moral humanity that I must serve. 


" I do think that you, or thousands who will show in 
various forms your thought, should think differently; 
for I believe that the elements held in suspense by such 
natures form a wholly indispensable protection to the 
operation of the doctrine which I dare not refuse to 
enunciate, but which must not be received too fast. I 
could name to you many persons whose sympathy with 
us was close, and who since the publishing of ' Sym- 
pneumata ' have silently stepped out of spiritual and men- 
tal intercourse with us, some in fear of our thought, 
some in disgust of it. And they are right at least I 
have no knowledge that they are not by thus leaving 
work that is not theirs for work that is. Their choice 
is a sacred matter between themselves and God. I 
wholly disagree with the view you take (while I believe 
it to be a safe and necessary view for many people to 
hold) that the divine life in us 'transforms corruption 
into combustion.' I believe that it transforms corrup- 
tion into higher types. I do not think the mission of 
the World-Saviour is to ' smite down evil,' but to bring 
order among that confusion of faculties which consti- 
tutes evil, and raise its victims up without destruction of 
anything pertaining to human life. I feel that certain 
servants of God are bidden that I am bidden to stir 
up and dwell upon every part of human thinking and 
feeling and doing, in order to discover and trace in them 
all the central vitality which is divine and eternal, and 
which must be wrested out of the filth in which it 
wallows. But I dare not say who else can do so. It may 
be that the whole system of belief, of which ' Sympneu- 
mata ' is but an introduction, will be scarcely acceptable 
to any one in this generation. But I am afraid to go 
on living without saying that I know that God steps 
down through men and is the vital essence of all their 
forces, and wills to leave none unredeemed." 

He adds that he was at one time moved to answer the 
letter of objection point by point, but decided otherwise, 
for the following reasons : 


" I am not aware that I am bidden to scatter vital force 
in any game of thoughts and words ; and if unexpectedly 
it were more than a game, and I could change a view in 
any one, I should be afraid I had gone wrong. I think 
that if to redeem men from sin is the only object of our 
lives, we are divinely permitted each of us to hold the 
form of thought by the aid of which we can for that 
purpose best utilise our special nature in the special era 
of our residence on earth." 

I have been intrusted by a lady, Mrs Hankin, who 
saw much of Laurence Oliphant during the last years 
of his life, with a MS. account of her intercourse with 
him, and with his wife by letters, which contains many 
interesting details of this period. This lady had been 
attracted by a phrase in ' Altiora Peto,' and being troubled 
and disturbed in her mind, had written to the unknown 
author with that impulse of seeking instruction and con- 
solation which attracts the perplexed mind with so much 
more confidence towards a stranger than towards the 
most intimate friend. She received a reply of the most 
cordial kind, and very soon after an invitation to visit 
the Oliphants at their summer house in Carmel during 
her vacations (for she was engaged in the charge and 
supervision of a school), so frank and kind, and at the 
same time so surprising, for they knew nothing of her but 
her letters, that her heart went out towards them with 
an impulse of responsive affection, though she could not 
accept the invitation, nor ever came to any mortal meet- 
ing with Alice at least, her unknown friend in the East. 
The account of this strange and warm intercourse is all 
the more remarkable from the evident fact that Mrs H. 
found more perplexity than enlightenment in the mystic 
counsels sent to her by husband and wife together, and 
even in the ' Sympneumata,' which she received with al- 
most devout interest, yet found herself but little capable 
of understanding. After the completion of that book, 
however, she received the following letter from Alice, 
which turned her wondering interest and sympathy into 
a warm personal feeling. 


" HAIFA, Juiie 10, 1884. 

" I suppose you'll be taking rest of some kind, will you 
not, about this time ? I am taking it in the straighten- 
ing out of the household details that I have had to a 
certain extent to neglect for some months, while helping 
in the little book we have been about together. Jams 
and saltings do give great rest of spirit when you must 
do them yourself, as in Palestine, or let your people go 
without! I may therefore luxuriate in such forms of 
rest with a clear conscience; and I am often thankful 
for the ridiculous weakness of my body, which makes 
such play thoroughly legitimate by making it at times 
the highest form of effort in which I may safely indulge. 
Mr Oliphant has been taking long rides of days about 
this country of late, with friends who wanted to inspect 
it for historical or agricultural purposes, and that has been 
great rest to him." 

Emboldened by such communications, and with the 
pleasant shock of finding in the mystic and ethereal 
oracle of Carmel so recognisable a woman, involved in 
cares so homely-sweet, and taking her relaxation in a way 
so becoming the cheerful mistress of a kindly house 
Mrs Hankin ventured to ask whether the mysterious 
utterances of ' Sympneumata ' were " trance writings," 
which she ventures to allow she had found in other cases 
feeble. This lady, though afterwards drawn deeply into 
the circle of feeling, if not of belief, produced by that 
work, avows throughout an honest inability to follow the 
sense of its mystical teaching. The reply to her letter 
was as follows : 

27th April 1885. 

" As it happened, I did dictate ' Sympneumata,' though 
we did not think of my doing it at the start. I went on, 
fancying it would return to Mr Oliphant, but it did not 
I never knew from day to day what would come; and 
it always flashed like lightning for a short time on my 
mind, and always left me strangely exhausted, as one 
is after strong emotion. And I never dared to think of 


it between times somehow, nor to look up the subjects 
except for names and dates, where there are references 
to history or literature ; so that it all had to run into 
what little deposited information I had retained when 
illustrations of outer things were needed. I did not like 
to put my name at first, partly because an unknown 
woman's name would certainly lessen its chance of making 
an impression, and partly because, in fact, I felt as though 
it really all came from Mr Oliphant as much as from me. 
I could never say a word of it except when he had the 
pen in his hand, nor think any thought when he was not 
in the room ; so he has to take the brunt of opinions. 
We get various ones, written and printed, of course ; but 
already it begins to comfort a few, which is more than we 
have any right to hope." 

Another letter follows, this time from Laurence, thank- 
ing Mrs Hankin for sending him a letter of high appre- 
ciation, not from herself, but from a relative, to whom 
' Sympneumata ' had been a revelation : 

"HAIFA, 8th June 1885. 

" Many thanks for sending me 's letter. It was an 

additional evidence of the opposite points from which the 
book strikes different minds, and is encouraging, as show- 
ing that it need not always startle the orthodox. General 
Gordon, then on his way to Khartoum, who spent some 
days with me here, took the same view. He only saw the 
manuscript, and wished it written from the more Biblical 
point of view, as, though he said that it contained nothing 
that was not to be found in the Bible,, yet few would 
recognise it, and it would frighten the majority, which it 
would not if it appealed more to the Bible as authority, 
and its agreement with it was made clearer. Mrs Oli- 
phant was not allowed, however, to alter the form, and 
indeed found herself rather prevented from thinking about 
the Bible, from which we gather, as we told Gordon, that 
such references as he desired would frighten away those 
who did not believe in the Bible, and were looking for 
light. It is not written for those who feel they have all 

'MASOLLAM.' 361 

the light they need, but for those who feel that the old 
religious landmarks have disappeared. In regard to what 
you suggest about some account by myself of the experi- 
ences through which I have passed, it will of course depend 
upon other circumstances than my own whether I feel 
myself impelled to write them or not. In the meantime I 
am engaged on a novel which turns upon such experiences, 
and which, though I don't think it will be popular or 
amusing so far as the majority of readers are concerned, 
may reach the few for whom it is intended." 

The novel here referred to is ' Masollam,' believed, and 
rightly believed, to convey Laurence's matured opinion of 
the prophet or wizard, magician, as it seems more fit to 
call him in the light of that tremendous indictment who 
had been for so many years something like his God. The 
book is full of strange things, and its machinery as a novel 
is solely constructed to bear the burden of philosophies 
and revelations much too great and full of meaning for 
such a vehicle. I do not suppose it ever was popular, 
though it produced a certain sensation, as everything he 
wrote, especially upon these mysterious subjects, was likely 
to do. I confess, for my own part, that I would much 
rather it had not been written. A fallen idol is a sad 
thing : it ought to be quietly, compunctiously put away, 
the fragments gathered up, the downfall reverently covered 
with a decent mantle, like the weakness of the patriarch. 
No doubt, from his own experience, a warning might be 
necessary for those who believe too much in prophets, and 
who are always liable to deception thereby; but this gen- 
eral lesson was not his aim. He had a hundred things to 
teach as well as one deceiver to expose. 

Nothing can be more curious and interesting than the 
fact that it was while in the full tide of these mystical 
works, absorbed and exhausted by the effort, whether alone 
or in concert with his wife, to give vent to the most com- 
plicated spiritual teachings that lie wrote in short chap- 
ters, full of humour and fancy, the record of his own 
adventures and strange and varied fortunes, which was 
published in 'Blackwood's Magazine' under the title of 


" Moss from a Boiling Stone," and afterwards collected in 
the volume entitled 'Episodes in a Life of Adventure.' 
There could be no better instance of the double nature of 
the man, at one moment absorbed in meditations which 
seem to touch the line between reason and unreason, in his 
effort to fathom beyond all possible depths the mysteries 
of man's nature and the cure for his ills : in the next, 
careering along the path of joyous life, with the free heart 
and ever- vivacious observation of youth, thinking of no 
mysteries save those whimsical originalities of the race 
those amusing paradoxes and odd situations which give so 
great a range to the good-humoured satirist and delight 
the easy-minded reader. This was not the only occasion 
on which his double being thus expressed itself, but it was 
perhaps the most notable. 

There was now approaching, however, a terrible crisis 
in his life, more dreadful than the downfall of any pro- 
phet. For about a year longer this mingled thread ran on 
for both : for in the life of Alice also, as the reader is 
aware, the sweet and soothing service of the household 
alternated with the high mystic outflowings of truth re- 
vealed, furnishing the same double aspect of character as 
in her husband : and the pair at one moment secluded in 
responsive rapture of soaring thought, and eager hope that 
now at last the talisman that was to reconvey celestial 
love to every breast had been found, descended anon from 
their mountain-top to the world, all friendly and warm 
with human interest, opening the doors of both house and 
heart to every passer-by in need. But now the clouds 
began to gather over the sky that was so bright. These 
rising clouds appeared at first in the for-m of added hap- 
piness and pleasantness. Mrs Oliphant's only surviving 
sister, Mrs Waller, with her husband and child, arrived at 
Haifa in November 1885 ; and partly on their account, 
and partly on her own, there were excursions planned to 
Galilee and the holy places there, of short duration at 
first, till it should be proved that the strength of Alice 
was equal to the strain. By this time the Haifa house- 
hold had become possessed of a carriage, in which they 
were able to begin at least their excursions. And they 


were full of happy projects of all kinds, and hopes of 
pleasure to come. The letter of Alice to her mother, 
announcing her sister's temporary settlement beside her, 
contained a promise of a visit on her own part to England 
in the ensuing summer, and a wish to find rooms within 
reach of her mother's house, within walking distance, 
" that I may go out and in " for " the four or five weeks 
of season" in which Laurence and she proposed to indulge ; 
as well as anticipations of an ensuing visit to Scotland, 
and many other pleasant prospects. And in the meantime 
there was Galilee to explore, with all the holy places, as 
yet unvisited. New openings of life after their long se- 
clusion seemed to be rising before the pair. 

About a month later Alice wrote, this time to her elder 
brother, Mr le Strange of Hunstanton, the present head of 
the family, with affectionate thanks to him for the " noble 
roll of photographs " he had sent her of the old ancestral 
home a long descriptive letter, full of details of the 
excursion to Galilee which had been so much looked for- 
ward to : 

"Dec. 20, 1885. 

" We have just returned from a trip which frightened 
us a little in the prospect on account of my headaches, 
but which I managed with only one and a half, and so 
little loss of strength, and on the whole enjoyed very 
much. The important particulars you will see, three or 
four months hence doubtless, in the ' English Illustrated 
Magazine/ where Laurence will have three articles on it, 
so I will only give you the more intimate story rapidly. 

" We started on Thursday, November 26, L. and I, our 
Druse man for horses, a German of this colony to manage 
tents, &c., a camel -driver with his two beasts, and the 
little son of our cook, an Egyptian, to keep him out of 
mischief, as his mother cannot manage him, and to have 
a little waiter and runner. L. and I drove to Nazareth, 
leaving horses and driver, and sending back our carriage 
next day, as Nazareth does not contain a single roof under 
which it could be left safely, in case of our returning that 
way ; and being an open American waggon, it could not 


be left with chance of rain in the khan. That rough long 
drive knocked me up, and I spent the next day in bed in 
the Nazareth convent. Fortunately it caused no loss of 
time, for it rained, and the camels could not have gone on, 
for they are almost useless on mud. 

" D. and K. had ridden after the carriage, and were with 
us at Nazareth, which they ' did ' conscientiously. 

" 3d day. The Wallers started early for Tiberias, too 
long a ride for me ; so we went quietly on in the after- 
noon, I being still rather limp, to Cana, an hour and a half 
from Nazareth. St Helena thought it was the Cana and 
built a church there, and the Dominicans have just built 
a convent on the foundations ; but L. 0. and the Palestine 
Exploration think the wedding in the Bible was at Cana- 
y-Jallel, further north though mind, I was very glad 
Helena did it, because we did not have to unpack our 
tents that night, as there was room in the empty convent 
' parlour ' for us to set up our beds, and they let us cook 
in the half -finished corridors, and let our people sleep 
there. We were now one more, having taken from Naz- 
areth a certain Shtawy, well known to Guy, to protect us 
among the Bedouins, and to forage where there were no 

" 4th day. Had a cup of tea, and rode off with our own 
man, and made coffee, and boiled eggs comfortably, after 
we had ridden an hour and a half. This was my first day's 
long ride, and we did it very well, reaching Tiberias at 
one o'clock. The Wallers had ordered lunch for us at the 
convent there, but as soon as our tents arrived we pitched 
them and slept in them. 

" 5th day. In Tiberias buying food for the tour round 
the lake, sketching and photographing. I took my little 
photo apparatus on my saddle always, and though very 
clumsy with it still from want of a master, eked out my 
sketching in a way that practically made the drawings a 
possibility, which they would hardly be with only sketching. 

" 6th day. Eode, Wallers and all, north along the lake 
to Magdala, a few Arab huts now ; turned next up the 
Wady Hamman, lunched, sketched, and photo 'd, under a 
fastness cut in the mountain rock where the soldiers were 


let down in cages to dislodge the Jews by Herod ; and so 
back to the lake and on to Tabjah, at its north-west bend. 
[Here follow several wet days, during which their progress 
was arrested.] 

" 9th. Eode early to plain at north-east of lake, cross- 
ing Jordan and visiting the possible Capernaum (Tell 
Hum) on the way. In the afternoon rode up some valleys 
in search of ruins, and came back cold and hungry, to see 
our tent blow flat down when it was nearly dark. Very 
hungry ! ! ! It blew a hurricane, and there was only loose 
sand for the tent-pegs. A providential wheat -magazine 
belonging to a rich Damascene pacha was there, and they 
let us sleep in the wheat and cook in the entrance. 

"IQth. L. 0. excursed, A. 0. headache and fever; still 
in the wheat- vault ; marshes all round. 

" llth. Better after quinine ; rode off early to get away 
from the marshes (buffaloes in them) ; pitched tent in the 
heart of a great Bedouin camp, at the entrance of Wady 
Semack, east side of lake. 

" 12th. From Wady Semack along the lake past Ga- 
mala, which visited ; left lake at southern bend, and went 
to hot sulphur-baths of Hammeh. .Roman ruins. 

" 13th. Eode in four hours to Tiberias, crossing Jordan 
at its exit from the lake. 

" 17th day. Home. 

" Thus it is established that I can manage such work if 
the moves do not entail more than four or five and a half 
hours in the saddle ; so we may later make such journeys 
again. It was quite fine except the three or four days I 

It is pathetic to read this promise of travel and pleasure 
to come. It was, I believe, the last letter ever written by 
her hand. These fatal nights in the marshes had breathed 
death into her delicate frame. She returned to Haifa, 
however, to all appearance in good health, and continued 
so for nearly a fortnight, during which time she went up 
to Dalieh with her husband, to look after necessary busi- 
ness there. But she had scarcely reached her mountain 
home when the germs of insidious disease began to show 


themselves. It was thought at first, however, that there was 
no danger, until suddenly with an awful certainty it became 
clear that she was about to die. The following narrative 
of her last days was sent by Laurence to her mother : 

"Feb. 10, 1886. 

" Our trip to Tiberias was simply the happiest fortnight 
of my life. It was so rare for us to be quite alone, still 
rarer to be both enjoying such interesting scenes, leading 
a life in tents, in itself so free from care and enjoyable, 
sharing all its little adventures and incidents and pleasures, 
a prolonged picnic a deux, with sketching, fishing, photo- 
graphing, &c., to amuse us. We spent two days at a large 
building on the north shore of the lake. I had at first 
determined not to camp there, for it was flat, and I was 
afraid it might be feverish. On my mentioning this to 
Guy's friend, Shtawy, who went with us the whole trip, 
he assured me that my fears were entirely groundless, 
that though at certain seasons it was feverish, there was 
not the slightest risk then; and this was confirmed by 
the Vakeel or man in charge of the estate of the rich 
proprietor, who was living there, and who assured me I 
might spend the night there with perfect safety. After 
the first night, when we slept inside the building to escape 
a gale of wind, we both felt a little headache, but this was 
attributed to some charcoal-fumes from our cooking-stove. 
The morning following the second night she started feeling 
quite well, but during our day's ride she felt a little feverish 
and took some medicine. It then passed off, and we thought 
no more of it. I never knew her stronger and better than 
during the next thirteen days. She seemed to have got 
into training, would ride the four hours without fatigue, 
and quite astonished me by riding up to Dalieh, and at 
once setting to work to get the house in order for the three 
days' stay we intended making there. Next morning it 
was our fourteenth after the night on the flat, she got up 
quite well, and went out to lay out some flower-beds in 
the garden. It was unusually cold, and I feared she might 
catch a chill ; but she seemed all right until the afternoon, 
when she complained of a chill. She did not go to bed, 


however, till after dinner, and after a restless night told 
me she thought she had a slight attack of rheumatic fever. 
Ina sent you a diary of the course of the malady after that. 
It was not for some days that I connected her fever with 
the fatal night on Lake Tiberias fourteen days before. I 
also had a slight attack. 

" Dr Martin, who was with us, treated her homoaopathi- 
cally, and she sometimes seemed so strong, and to have 
shaken it off so completely, that I did not realise how 
serious it was. On Christmas she ate well, dictated a long 
piece of writing to me, and passed several hours of the 
afternoon in the arm-chair, occasionally getting up and 
walking up and down the room for exercise ; but in the 
night she got delirious again, only to wake feeling free 
from fever and better in the morning. It was on the 
following Friday, exactly one week from Christmas, that 
I had my last talk with her. She woke free from delirium. 
' I feel quite well now/ she said ; ' the fever has quite left 
me : my body is free from all disease, and I only require 
to recover my strength. There is no longer any cause for 
anxiety.' Seeing that I looked anxious notwithstanding, 
she repeated, 'Indeed there is no cause for anxiety. I 
am only suffering now from a fearful spiritual pressure.' 
I asked her if there was anything I could do to relieve it. 
She said, ' No ; but sometimes the burden seems greater 
than I can bear.' I then tried to amuse her by talking 
about our plans for the garden, &c. I also said that I 
had sent for Dr Schmidt to consult with Dr Martin, and 
she said, ' I am glad of that, but don't be anxious ' and 
soon after she fell asleep. The doctors, however, consid- 
ered the crisis past. The fever had left her for thirty-six 
hours, and they attributed the delirium to the quinine 
and laudanum they had been compelled to give her: as 
soon as she recovered from that, they said, it will only re- 
main for her to get back her strength. At seven o'clock 
on Saturday evening I asked them how she was getting 
on. As well as we could possibly hope, they said; by 
midnight she will have recovered from the effect of the 
medicine. I was never more hopeful than when I was 
called into the room hurriedly an hour and a half later, 


just in time to see the last quick breath drawn. The 
doctors called the cause of death ' cerebral irritation.' But 
I know from what she murmured during her delirium that 
she gave it the right name when she said it was spiritual 
pressure. She had overstrained the machine, and when 
it was taxed by an illness which I don't think would 
otherwise have proved fatal, it gave way." 

And thus this beautiful and beloved woman departed 
out of the midst not of a family only, but of an entire 
people who did not know how to reconcile themselves 
to the blow or to bear the loss. The Druses above, the 
Syrians and Germans below, all who had seen her com- 
ing and going for these five bright years, always full of 
succour, beaming with smiles and kindness, stood round 
her death-bed with aching hearts, unable to believe that 
it could be true. 

I am permitted to quote here, from the letter of Mrs 
Oliphant's only surviving sister to her mother, the cir- 
cumstances of her death and burial. The anxious nurse, 
better acquainted with every symptom of the illness, had 
not taken so hopeful a view as the husband ; but even 
to her the end came with unthought-of suddenness. 

" At half -past eight, Saturday evening, January 2d, as 
I was rubbing her foot and watching her face, she sud- 
denly stopped breathing. We called Laurence in. It 
was only like holding a breath, no struggle, no move- 
ment. She drew one more breath, and her sweet spirit 
had fled to God who gave it. Poor Laurence was just 
stunned, and really wanted nursing and attending to, 
but I could not be with him at first. Dr Schmidt l 
gave me all the help I required, doing all I asked of 
him in such a really tender and reverent manner that 
I am deeply grateful to him. I could not do all for 
her so well as I would, for stranded up there on the 
mountain there were few necessities to my hand; but 
I was able to place her so that she looked at last quite 
beautiful, calm, and with a smiling restful expression on 

1 The German doctor at Haifa. 


her face, all distress and suffering banished. We placed 
some pretty mountain daisies in her crossed hands ; and 
when Laurence saw her on Sunday, his first exclamation 
was, ' Oh, but you did not tell me ! she is quite beauti- 
ful !' I was so glad to think he could have such a last 
recollection of her dear face. 

" Dr Schmidt kindly left us as soon as I could release 
him, and rode down all through the night with a lantern 
to Haifa (no slight undertaking, as Guy knows, over those 
steep mountain tracts), and went immediately to A., who, 
together with him, made every arrangement, and saved 
Laurence in every way they could. Though Sunday, 
every German in the colony came forward with offers 
of help. Loving hands worked both at carpentering 
and sewing, and in the incredibly short space of five 
hours everything was ready and despatched to Dalieh. 
There at 8 P.M. I received all at Phai's hands [a Ger- 
man servant, one of the colonists], and he and Dr Martin 
and I laid her in the coffin : no one else touched her. 
The grief among the Druses was intense. As one of 
them quaintly puts it, ' If five of our best sheikhs die, 
village not so sorry.' We asked for eight men amongst 
them to carry her down as far as the plain, where car- 
riages could meet us, a longer road, but an easier one 
than the ordinary way over the mountains. Instead of 
eight, fifty offered themselves, and these men simply 
vied with one another who should have the honour of 
lifting her. It was a strange scene that early morning 
journey. It all seemed to me like a dream. In front 
rode the principal sheikhs of the village of Dalieh, then 
the Druse bier on which we had placed her, borne on 
the shoulders of eight men at a time, and surrounded 
by the others. Then came Laurence, myself, Katherine, 
and Dr Martin (all on horseback), in single file. Good 
Phai ran on foot the whole four miles, so as to be handy 
in case of any accident. All the women of the village, 
who had loved her, and to whom she had so often minis- 
tered in their various troubles, stood round us (as they 
set out), and kissed my hand, all weeping. The bearers 
kept up an even pace without any shaking the whole 

2 A 


way down beyond 'Aui Hand (three miles from the sea, 
at the foot of the hills), going as fast as our horses could 
walk, and never once paused to rest. 

" Here we laid her in the carriage that Souz had brought 
[one of the colonists, who habitually drove her before they 
had a carriage of their own], and after a quarter of an 
hour's rest, of which we all stood in need, we remounted, 
Laurence and I now following the carriage closely, and 
Katherine and the doctor behind us. When we were more 
than an hour's ride from the point of Carmel, we were met 
by Mr Keller, the German consul, and his dragoman, in 
a carriage, kindly brought for me and Katherine ; but I 
could not bear the shaking, and preferred to ride. Then 
on reaching the point, at two miles from the colony, 
Adolphus met us ; and a few yards on, a large group of 
Germans, all the principal men of the colony, and all the 
foreign consuls and their dragomen and cavasses (guards). 
They all uncovered as the corttge passed, and then silently 
followed, only the cavass of the English consul going in 
front on foot. At the entrance of the colony, and quite 
up to the door of Laurence's house, we passed through a 
lane of people, almost every man, woman, and child in 
the colony, and many Arabs from the town, and a guard 
of honour sent by the (Moslem) Governor of Haifa. Had 
she been a queen she could not have been received with 
more respectful homage, and it was all spontaneous ex- 
pression of love personal love for her. Laurence felt it 
very much, for we had expected nothing of the kind ; and 
I think so much sympathy really helped him to go through 
the hard task. 

" A little rest being absolutely necessary for us all (we 
had been five hours on horseback), we laid her in one of 
the outer rooms, and covered her with a violet pall, with 
dull-red cross from end to end, which had been hurriedly 
made, and which I was glad to find pleased Laurence very 
much ; but it was soon hidden under the numbers of 
wreaths and fiowers provided from nearly every cottage in 
the place. A guard of Germans established themselves to 
watch over her Schumacher, Lange, Dlick, Kreisg and 
after them in turn all the head men of the colony. At 


four o'clock we started for the German cemetery. Nothing 
could have exceeded the kindness and true feeling with 
which everything was made easy to us, everything put at 
our disposal : permission to lay her there, permission for 
Adolphus to read the service (this, too, by Laurence's 
wish), everything, in fact, that they could do was done. 
Laurence was so much knocked up indeed he was hardly 
fit to sit his horse, never having properly recovered from 
his own attack of fever on the mountain that we all per- 
suaded him not to go to the funeral ; also it was raining 
hard, and in every way unfit for him. We found the 
grave lovingly lined with leaves. An immense concourse 
of people accompanied us, of all ranks and classes and 
religions ; and when the last words were spoken, the grave 
was nearly filled by the heaps of flowers, wreaths, and 
garlands that were laid upon her. So we laid her to her 
rest, in view of Mount Carmel, and the Sea and the hills 
of Galilee ; and poor and rough as the other surroundings 
may be, still rich in the grateful love of the poor people 
she had so much benefited." 

An after-incident proves in a very affecting way the 
permanency of this deep and tender feeling. When the 
time came to mark the place where they had laid her dear 
remains, there was no one far or near to cut her name 
upon the stone, till the present head of the German colony, 
the American Vice - Consul, Herr Schumacher, the most 
respected and honoured among the Europeans, stepped 
forth. He had not touched a chisel for many years, but 
long ago, in his youth in America, had learned the mason's 
trade. And he it was who inscribed her name upon her 
grave. The blue sea murmurs close by upon the shining 
strand ; on the other side green Carmel rises, with the 
mother convent, the head of all the Carmelite communities, 
upon its nearest slope, over the narrow border of cultivated 
land. Thus between her home on the hill and that by the 
sea she lies, the nothing of her that could fade. 

I will not allow the reader to suppose that in the heart 
of the survivor this was an end. He too was stricken with 
the fever which had killed her, but not enough to give him 


the happy fate of going with her to the eternal shores. 
The terrible blank which we have all to bear fell upon 
Laurence for a few brief but awful days. He lost her 
from his side, her helping hand from his, her inspiring 
voice. But only for a few days. One night when he lay 
sick and sorrowful upon his bed in the desolate house at 
Haifa, a sudden rush of renewed health and vigour and 
joy came upon the mourner. The moment of complete 
union had come at last: his Alice had returned to him, 
into his very bosom, into his heart and soul, bringing 
with her all the fulness of a new life, and chasing away 
the clouds of sorrow like the morning vapours before the 
rising sun. 



THE life which I have tried to trace through all its adven- 
tures by flood and field, its spiritual gropings and diffi- 
culties, the convulsions by which it was rent asunder, 
the strange experiences which it worked through, and the 
period of absolute and peaceful happiness in its penulti- 
mate chapter, had now come to its last stage. Laurence 
was left, when his wife died, more than a widowed hus- 
band, a being forsaken, deprived not only of the consola- 
tion but the inspiration of his life. He dwelt but little, 
in the after-sense of spiritual reunion attained, upon the 
short but terrible interval of desolation. There is, how- 
ever, a very full revelation of the history of this dreadful 
crisis in his life, in a letter to Mrs Wynne Finch, the 
mother of his lost love, from which I have already quoted 
the description of her death. But this sad narrative is 
accompanied by many touching details of his own bereaved 
thoughts, and of the wonderful light which had come to 
him in the darkness: 

" I know you will have understood my silence thus far, 


and how for long I shrunk, as it were, from turning the 
dagger in the wound which, when it first came, I longed 
might prove fatal. It seemed so absolutely impossible 
that I could go on living without her ; and indeed I do 
not think I could if things had gone on as they did the 
first week, when I seemed surrounded by an impenetrable 
gloom of desolation and despair. Suddenly one night the 
light seemed to burst through, and she came to me so 
radiant, and at the same time so sad at seeing me un- 
happy, that my own grief seemed to be lifted by the 
effort she made to dispel it. She seemed literally to be 
rolling some great burden off my soul, and I felt that my 
first duty to her was to be cheerful, and to fight against 
the morbid condition that was creeping over me. From 
that time I have continued to feel her more and more, 
and to be regaining my own health and spirits. She 
seems sensationally to invade my frame, thrilling my 
nerves when the sad fit is coming on, and shaking me out 
of it flooding my brain occasionally with her thoughts, 
so that I can feel her thinking in me and inspiring me. 
There is no analogy with mediumship or spiritualism, for 
I am never more conscious of her than when all my facul- 
ties are on the alert. Nor am I alone in this. Mrs Cuth- 
bert, who has, ever since Alice first went to America, been 
her devoted friend, and who has been our guest for three 
and a half years, is in some respects more conscious of her 
than I am, for she is more sensitive organically to such 
influences : and we are thus continually able to have the 
consolation of her presence, which has really robbed death 
of all its bitterest sting. Of course I miss her sweet com- 
panionship every moment, for these last years have been 
of unalloyed bliss, and every moment I spent away from 
her loved presence I grudged. And her loss seemed the 
more irreparable because the work to which we had given 
our lives, and the common object for which we laboured, 
and which formed a tie transcending any which could 
arise from natural marriage, seemed suddenly and hope- 
lessly checked. I felt like a ship on a voyage of discovery, 
pregnant with the most important results to the world, 
fatally stranded and wrecked. But now all that is passed. 


She has shown how the work can be carried on more 
effectually with her aiding and guiding than it ever could 
have been with our former limited powers. And I feel 
once again afloat, with a different compass to guide me 
than I ever had before. Henceforward I live in her, as 
she will, if I am faithful to my own highest aspirations, 
in me : we are indissolubly bound to all eternity more 
firmly wedded now than we could ever be below ; and my 
great desire will be to let her love flow through me in 
the channel in which she wills it to flow, and which will 
assuredly be to those she loved so dearly on earth. As 
my great happiness in life is to know what she wants me 
to do, and to do it, and as God has providentially assured 
a means of communication between us by which I can 
discover this, I can walk no longer blindly. I believe in 
some way our darling will make our present loss our great 
gain, and that we may be spared together to a deeper 
knowledge of those mysteries which she has now fathomed, 
by which we may rise to greater powers of use." 

The letter which follows, addressed to Mrs Hankin, the 
lady already frequently mentioned, in whom both the 
Oliphants felt the deepest interest, gives further proof of 
the strong conviction of Laurence that his wife's affection 
and solicitude for those she loved was felt and expressed 
with more warmth than ever from beyond the grave : 

" I know you will excuse a very brief note, for I am 
only just recovering from the nervous attack which re- 
sulted from a shock so unexpected, and am still weak from 
many sleepless nights accompanied by fever. We both 
seem to have been attacked by malaria while camping on 
Lake Tiberias, which only developed a fortnight later up 
at Dalieh, where my beloved one succumbed to it, after a 
fortnight's illness. I cannot write about it yet, but you 
must not suppose I am discouraged. For a week the gloom 
was terrible, and it seemed as if all was lost the light and 
inspiration gone from my life, and nothing left me but to 
follow. Then she was able to come to me, and roll away 
the great burden of my despair. And now she never leaves 


me, and has explained to me why she had to go, and what 
I have to do, and why I can do it better with her on the 
other side than on this. And I would not have her back, 
though only those who have known her can imagine what 
a blank there is a blank which the whole community, 
Moslem, Druse, and Christian alike, feel, and their sense 
of which they have manifested in a remarkable way. Even 
the German colonists say they feel her among them more 
now than when she was visible to them. But I shall hope 
to see you before very long, and to tell you what it is im- 
possible to write, and about her whose angelic character it 
is impossible to describe. She has been very urgent in 
her desire that I should write to you even before my own 
and her relatives, and from where she is she knows well 
why. I hope to be in England in May, and will write 
and let you know when I arrive. She says I must send 
you the enclosed lock of her hair, with her love, and she 
seems to think that she may be able to be of some special 
use to you." 

He gave the same account to me personally, in June of 
the same year, when he was in England, both of the death 
of his wife and the after restoration to him. He carried 
out faithfully the programme of what should have been 
their joint visit to England and Scotland together. She 
should have been doing everything with him, alas ! as we 
say. But he did not say so. Why should he ? She was 
there with him, a part of his being, taking her share in 
everything he did, guiding him in all he had to do. So he 
believed. And to hear him tell that bewildering tale, and 
to remain unaffected by his entire and happy certainty of 
its truth, was, to me at least, impossible. What do we 
know of the mysteries of life and death? Such strong 
consolations do not come to us, for whom, perhaps, the 
long endurance, the aching void, the blank of separation, 
may be needful. But so far as his own consciousness 
went, his experience was certainly true. 

These were the sentiments with which Laurence Oli- 
phant took up from the brink of the grave what remained 
to him of life. It was but a brief chapter, and the reader 


may think there were incidents in it which seemed, in 
some sort, to belie its constancy and conviction; but it 
was only in seeming that the contradiction existed. He 
says some time after, " I do pity poor Madame de R, who 
can't get nearer to her lost one than Pere la Chaise. The 
one place I avoid here is the cemetery." 

The short visit he paid me was on his return from 
Cumberland Lodge, the residence of the Princess Christian, 
always his most kind and sympathetic friend, where he 
had spent some days, having been seized there by a violent 
attack of fever. He remained subject to such attacks, 
which came on without warning and with great violence, 
for some time. His appearance was changed, but the 
change was one rather of sentiment than of fact. There 
was about him the affecting cheerful languor of a life 
worn out, and from which its chief object was taken, 
yet which held head against sorrow and weariness with a 
smile, vowing to bate no jot of heart or hope. How sad 
the smile can be, and how heartrending the cheerfulness, 
in such circumstances, it is needless to say. Perhaps the 
shadow of the wearing illness from which he had scarcely 
recovered still hung about him, enhancing that effect. 
His movements, the swaying of his figure, which seemed 
longer and sparer than ever it had been a something for- 
lorn in the smiling look with which he met all kind and 
sympathetic faces were so many tokens of the blow that 
had been struck at his life. Yet he was no less brilliant in 
conversation than of old, and when other members of the 
household appeared, turned at once from his personal story 
to the life of everyday, brightening every topic he touched 
with all the recollections and experiences and endless illus- 
trations of which his mind was full, as in his best days. 
The following letter was written on his arrival in London, 
in answer to a letter from Mrs Hankin, informing him of 
a serious illness from which she was recovering : 

"May 20 [1886]. 

" If I were writing to you in conventional language, I 
should say I was sorry to hear you had been ill, and hoped 
that you would get better ; but we feel that illness has its 


lesson, and death its use have learned to take things as 
they come, and to believe that if we have no other desire 
but to be used as God's instruments, He will answer that 
desire by keeping us in this world or removing us to an- 
other as His service may require. Of this you may be 
sure, that if you do go hence, you will find her who has 
left me waiting for you. What you say about the book 
[' Sympneumata '] helping people, encourages me : for all 
nearly of my friends who have read it, or tried to read it, 
tell me they find it quite incomprehensible ; but there are 
most comforting exceptions, to whom it seems to supply 
all they need." 

The letter concludes with anxious arrangements for 
meeting the correspondent whom Alice had loved without 
knowing her. I may add here this lady's account of the 
first meeting, which led to a very close friendship and 
much communion : 

" I saw before me not the cheerful, brisk, hopeful man 
of the world, but a sad, weary-looking mystic, who looked 
larger than his height and older than his years, with thin, 
scattered iron-grey hair, a worn, sensitive face, and tired 
eyes. He silently shook hands, and lay down on a sofa 
at a little distance from me. As I looked and wondered, 
his whole frame shook with a convulsive, vibratory motion 
a strange shuddering ran through all his limbs. ' She 
is very busy with you,' his friend said. 

" ' She wants Mrs Hankin to sit by me : she is so 
glad we have met,' he said at last ; and they exchanged 
some words about ' strong influence ' which I did not 

" I sat and held his hand, and he talked to me in a 
gentle, pathetic way of his loss ; of how 'She' had brought 
about our meeting, for reasons we did not know at present, 
but must look for with great watchfulness. By degrees 
the convulsive ripple in his limbs, and the strong agitation 
moving him almost to tears, subsided, and we strolled out, 
all three together, into the scented garden, and became 
very happy. He talked continually of his Alice till I felt 


as if she were really making a fourth with us, and became 
full of joy and exultation, as one might feel just enlisted in a 
glorious, dangerous service in which one was content to die. 

" Then came the evening, the house now full of family 
life, and the talk general and on ordinary subjects ; and 
then it was that I recognised the Laurence Oliphant of 
my photograph as, to a certain degree, still living in the 
tired, pale mystic of the afternoon. He told us anecdote 
after anecdote, as only he could tell, of his past life at 
home and abroad, or of his literary contemporaries and 
their modes of thought and action ; and throughout 
proved himself the very perfection of a raconteur, ab- 
solutely free from egotism, vanity, or ill-nature. 

" It was quite early in the following mornnig when my 
kind friend woke me, and asked if I would dress at once 
and come with her to Mr Oliphant. I may as well say 
that where everything had been so strange and unex- 
pected, I found nothing to astonish me in this. I assumed 
that the ' Alice ' of whom they spoke with such assurance 
wanted to help me in some way, and I was not only ready 
but eager to be helped. Mr Oliphant, looking less worn 
and sad than he had done on the previous afternoon, 
questioned me about the nature of my illness, which was 
a weakness of the heart, and implied that he thought he 
might do me good, though, as he was careful to explain, 
his work was not in a general way that of a healer of 
bodily maladies. 

" I sat by his side and held his hand for some time, 
finding that a strong current poured through him, shak- 
ing my hand and arm with a powerful vibration, a mo- 
tion like that produced by the current from a galvanic 
battery, though the sensation was not similar ; indeed I 
only felt at first a warm and pleasant tingling in my arm 
and shoulder, and afterwards a great exhilaration and 
exaltation of spirits. 

" After about half an hour's pleasant talk my friend ad- 
vised me to lie down for a short time in my room before 
the family breakfast : this I did, but the vibratory motion 
in my arm continued to be powerfully felt during the 
whole of that time. 


" After breakfast, Mr Oliphant left for town. We had 
no more conversation, and made no arrangements for 
future meetings. He said 'Alice would see to that/ 
and I was quite contented that it should be so. The 
mental and spiritual exaltation was upon me for two 
days, and for a considerable time the faintness and other 
discomforts connected with my ailments were greatly 

This will show, better than anything else could do, how 
tremendous a change had come upon Laurence Oliphant's 
life. His strange doctrines, his wonderful faith, the beliefs 
for which he had sacrificed everything, had up to the time 
of his wife's death led to many proceedings which were 
unlike those of ordinary men ; but whatever these were, 
they had left his personal dignity untouched, nay, height- 
ened by the natural nobility attaching everywhere to a 
man who gives to the world the last proof of sincerity 
and steadfastness. But now the foot so apt to wander into 
untrodden paths had got detached altogether from the 
solid earth. The thrill of strange agitation, the convulsive 
movements, the "strong influx," are strange and painful 
indications of the changed conditions. To believe that \t 
was Alice the harmonious and beautiful being, whose 
office in life had certainly not been to produce any con- 
vulsion, but rather order and serenity, and the grace of a 
trained and disciplined spirit who now in her perfect 
state produced effects like these, seems little more respect- 
ful to the dead than was the vulgar belief which repre- 
sented the departed spirit as communicating with its near- 
est and dearest through the legs of a table. Had it been 
possible, I would fain have drawn a veil over this portion 
of the development, not of Laurence Oliphant, but of the 
wild belief which now burned with strong desire for palp- 
able and evident signs. But it would not be sincere to 
leave out of his story these concluding scenes. The man 
or woman perhaps the latter most who has been cut 
adrift at a stroke from all he or she possessed in life, will 
be able to understand, with an ache of sympathy and com- 
passion, how the strained body toiling after the eager soul, 


which was ever longing to convince itself of the reality of 
its sensations of reunion, should have fallen into agitations 
like these, triumphantly received as outward tokens of all 
the mind most desired to believe. 

It would be presumptuous to pronounce judgment even 
upon these thaumaturgic movements. There are too many 
mysteries of the spirit unknown, to permit us to come to 
light and arbitrary conclusions upon such a matter. Still 
the reasonable mind recoils from such scenes, and they 
cannot but be felt to detract from the hitherto unimpair- 
ed personal dignity of the man whom we have followed 
through so many wonderful episodes without ever finding 
him to fail. 

This curious interview took place a few weeks earlier 
than the occasion already recorded, in which he spent a 
few hours at my own house, without the slightest sign of 
any such development. Others of his friends saw him in 
the few years that followed under the influence here de- 
scribed : but I, who had but brief and accidental occasions 
of seeing him, never had any such experience, and a great 
number of his friends were in the same condition. It is 
almost incredible, yet it is true that, while he was seen on 
one side of his being in this extraordinary aspect, he was 
at the same time on the other side the same brilliant 
talker, with the same humour and animation, and power 
of fascinating all who had the good fortune to find them- 
selves in his company, as ever. In literature, between 
' Sympneumata,' which was published in 1885, and the 
volume of ' Scientific Keligion,' which he was already be- 
ginning to turn over in his mind, he had no serious work 
in hand; but he was still engaged upon the lively and 
delightful papers in 'Black wood' called "Moss from a 
Kolling Stone," afterwards published under the title of 
' Episodes of a Life of Adventure/ The rolling stone was 
not now bounding from hillock to hillock as in the youth- 
ful days, so full of strange and cheerful experiences : but 
still this " worn mystic," this man whose life was hid in a 
mysterious union with the dead, recalled and recorded 
them with the evident pleasure and relish of one to whom 
life was still dear and full of natural interest. The union 


of the two is more marvellous almost than anything I 
remember in biography. 

He paid a series of visits during the autumn, one among 
others to the Prince of Wales at Abergeldie, whom he had 
met at Homburg in August and September, when he spent 
a month there. While at Abergeldie he was honoured 
with an invitation to dine at Balmoral, and gave to the 
Queen, always so graciously disposed to listen to the facts 
of personal life, some account of his own wonderful ways 
of thinking and equally remarkable history. The Koyal 
Family in general had indeed always taken a strong in- 
terest in him, manifested during many years past. Among 
other visits of a less splendid but more intimate character 
was one which he paid to Mr and Mrs Walker, when he 
saw for the first time the portrait which his Alice had 
painted of herself during her brief residence with them at 
San Kafael. He had not been aware, I think, of its exist- 
ence and it was a wonderful delight to him. These kind 
friends, ever more thoughtful of him than themselves, 
allowed him to take the portrait with him ; and it was the 
greatest consolation and happiness to him during the next 
chapter of his lonely life. 

In the beginning of October I met Laurence again quite 
unexpectedly in Edinburgh at the house of Miss Black- 
wood, where he was dining, and where his always delight- 
ful talk was as animated, varied, and brilliant as ever. 
His conversation was of the kind most delightful to the 
hearer, though perhaps not so well adapted to the pur- 
poses of a biography as if he had been one of the monolo- 
gists whose discoursings keep the listeners dumb. He, on 
the contrary, was the soul of the conversation, making 
others talk as well as himself, so that some of his own 
brightness overflowed upon his interlocutors, who some- 
times, to their great astonishment, found themselves shin- 
ing too, in a light half borrowed, half elicited by the 
sympathetic contact of a mind so fresh, so ready to re- 
spond, so full of original impulses. He talked out of the 
fulness that was in him about everything, with some 
novel illustration, some individual view, at the least some 
witty story to tell apropos of every theme. There was no 


confining him to one subject or another. His mind knew 
no divisions, had apparently no crotchets, and certainly 
no assumptions or pretension. Always humorous, always 
easy, talking not for talking's sake or with the faintest 
idea of producing himself, but from the abundance of 
an active and lively mind, to which almost everything 
was interesting, and that extraordinary acquaintance with 
every kind and condition of man which he had acquired 
by means of this very interest in everything he saw, 
he was the most spontaneous of conversationalists, never 
overbearing a timid remark, never omitting to notice a 
shy interlocutor. He brought out of his treasury things 
old and new, without the least apparent consciousness 
that he was doing anything more than all the rest of the 
company could have done had they pleased. To think 
of such a man as he appeared at that dinner -table in 
Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, fresh from the society of 
royal personages, and conscious as he was of a position 
more strange and unique in the world of mind and intelli- 
gence than any contemporary and to imagine in him the 
convulsions and tremors of an occult visionary, was too 
bewildering to be possible. The mere idea of such a con- 
junction makes the brain go round. The last man in 
the world for such experiences the most acute observer, 
knowing nothing of his history, would have said. 

His publications at this period, which he was busily 
at work arranging during the last months of the year 
while he remained in England, were many, and of an 
equally varied kind. The little volume called ' Fashion- 
able Philosophy,' the lightest of satire ; the book called 
' Haifa/ which he intended and hoped would be the 
authority, or one of the authorities, upon the localities 
and modern life of Palestine ; the ' Episodes,' one of his 
most brilliant and popular publications, a sort of easy 
autobiography; and a proposed new edition of that amaz- 
ing onslaught upon his ancient gods, ' Masollam,' were 
all getting ready for the press during these busy months ; 
and he himself arranging, advising, discussing sales, &c., 
with all the keenness of a man of business. He was 
particularly concerned during all his literary career about 


the number of his books that were sold, and the facilities 
afforded to the public for obtaining them, and reported 
continually to his publisher the complaints of friends 
who were unable to procure them telling of some who 
had besieged Mudie for weeks to procure a copy in vain, 
that great authority having professed to the publisher that 
the book was not sufficiently in request to justify him 
in taking more than so many copies ; and of some who, 
equally unsuccessfully, searched the bookstands for the 
volume. " Of course," he cries, with humorous rage, " if 
that beast Smith does not expose my book it can't sell, and 
he is not fit to be leader of the House of Commons ! A 
question ought to be asked about it in the House, or some- 
thing done to get justice." 

While all this cheerful bustle was going on in his out- 
er life occupations which seem continual, cares of the 
robustest practical kind the other went on by its side 
visionary, sometimes with beautiful .gleams of thought, 
sometimes so absorbed in regions beyond mortal ken as 
to bewilder the faculties of those who strained after him, 
trying to follow and understand. In the following letter 
it will be seen there is a mixture of both. 

" October 17, 1886. 

" I ana so glad you have been feeling what you have 
described about the functions of Christ, and the attitude 
which we who are struggling for the bridegroom life 
should hold towards Him. If, as you say, a being like 
Alice can exercise so much power through us, how much 
more can He, if we open ourselves to Him ? It is only since 
her death that I have been feeling this very strongly, it 
was one of the first new sentiments with which she began 
powerfully to infuse me ; and it is clear she is doing the 
same to you, which is a great source of happiness to me, 
as it proves how she is operating upon us both. Every 
time I feel her descent, I am beginning more clearly now 
to realise Him in her : for it is the function of the woman 
to get life from Him direct, and to transmit it to man ; 
and I begin to realise the process of her drawing it from 


Him and passing it on to me, and this brings me nearer 
to Him. But you can reach Him direct, and hence can 
radiate more powerfully than I can ; and from all women 
who can do this I can gain the kind of strength I need 
for my more external and executive work, which is dif- 
ferent from theirs. Hence I seem to crave this feminine 
element in the degree in which burdens press and work 
increases, and what is more curious, the life I thus get 
through women I can give out unconsciously, and draw 
other women by it. I constantly feel a sort of magnet 
among them, and those who have aspirations feel drawn 
to give me their confidence, and seek my advice and help, 
so that I have become a sort of father confessor to some 
who were comparative strangers, and who have told me 
that they felt irresistibly impelled, from the first moment 
they saw me, thus to approach and absolutely to trust me. 
This is a great compensation for much suffering, and I feel 
this power is increasing, just in proportion as I magnify 
Christ's function, and strain up to Him through Alice. He 
is the connecting link between us and the great Unknow- 
able, and for this cause He came into the world, that He 
might unite us sensationally to His Father and our Father." 

One of the most remarkable incidents in Oliphant's 
history during this autumn was his sudden penetration 
into the heart and difficulties of a clergyman of the 
Church of England the same who afterwards added an 
appendix under that title to ' Scientific Eeligion/ and who, 
having arrived at a crisis in life which demanded action, 
threw himself on very small knowledge upon the friend- 
ship and advice of his visitor, and thereupon formed the 
heroic resolution of forsaking everything and going out to 
Haifa with this new guide. " Imagine," says Laurence in 
one of his letters to Mrs Hankin " imagine my having 
read the lessons in a white surplice ! " in the village 
church which the gentleman above mentioned found it his 
duty to resign. I may add that they continued together 
in very close friendship until the end of Laurence's life, 
his new convert being in many ways his faithful hench- 
man, and in all his trusted coadjutor and friend. 


I may quote once more from the recollections of Mrs 
Hankin an interesting scene which took place before he 
left England in the end of 1886, when she met him to 
take leave, " in a quiet country vicarage." A previous 
meeting, when the whole party who were bound for Haifa 
were present, and their plans and preparations for the 
journey were naturally in the ascendant, and spiritual 
intercourse scarcely possible, had been a disappointment 
to this lady ; but very different was the effect now pro- 
duced. She describes the frost-bound country outside, the 
falling snow, the desolation of the landscape. 

" But once within, the sense of spiritual companionship 
filled us all with a great peace, and once more that 
internal tranquillity, in which Alice could bring her full 
power to bear on Mr Oliphant, seemed to reign. I 
specially remember the afternoon hours which we spent 
in the room of our hostess, a confirmed invalid, often dur- 
ing the winter confined for days to her room. 

" Thick flakes of snow were falling on the garden beds 
outside, and all nature wore an aspect of intense sadness ; 
but we that is, the invalid, her young daughter, and 
myself listened for hours entranced while Mr Oliphant 
talked to us. I remember the exquisite tenderness with 
which he comforted and reassured the invalid, and how 
her tired face grew restful and placid as he held her thin 
hand, and, with the strong magnetism pouring from his 
own, talked to her of that other world of which the in- 
habitants were still moving round us in love and pity. 
There was no necessity for explanation or for breaking new 
ground, for my friends had read and appreciated ' Sym- 
pneumata/ while I was still stumbling among its involved 
sentences and difficulties of expression. When we had 
talked long on spiritual things, he told us much of his life." 

I have already used in previous chapters the descrip- 
tions given of his life in Brocton to these sympathetic 
inquirers. Mrs Hankin adds that in all he said of Harris 
there was not a word about the downfall of that idol, or 
the causes that led to it : 

2 B 


" In fact, the whole time seemed full of so intense a 
peace that all memory of past jars, and all thought of 
present difficulties or future dangers, seemed to have faded 
out. He said several times, 'How strong the influx is 
here ! ' and again and again the curious rippling vibration 
ran over his breast and shoulders, and he would say, with 
a half-tearful smile, ' There is Alice ! ' ' 

This meeting was his farewell for the moment to these 
sympathetic friends. In the end of January 1887 he left 
England, and his next communications are from Paris, 
where he paused to visit Mrs Wynne Finch for a time on 
his way to Haifa. Here he writes to his correspondent, 
bidding her not to pity him, as she did with natural feel- 
ing, on account of his return to Haifa for the first time 
since his wife's death. " We have no call," he says, " to 
feel compassion for any one who is being so tenderly and 
lovingly dealt with by God as I am, or in regard to any 
experiences we may be called upon to go through in the 
divine service. In the meantime his pause in Paris 
brought him acquainted with some of the occult yet pro- 
fessional, and, as we in England are inclined to think, 
partly theatrical researches into the phenomena of hyp- 
notism, which to him appeared in a very serious light 
as playing with dangerous forces as yet unknown to 
the operators. " I am going," he says, " to see Charcot's 
hypnotic experiments some day soon. There is an im- 
mense movement in this direction here, and a ' Revue 
Hypnotique ' is published. They will find they have got 
hold of a force they little understand." 

" I spent two hours yesterday at the Salpetriere hospital, 
and witnessed the most extraordinary experiments I ever 
saw. It was amusing to see the most able physicians of 
Paris perfectly dumbfoundered with their own experi- 
ments, unable to account for them. They have got to the 
length of feeling that a law must be passed prohibiting 
people from magnetising one another, in consequence of 
the number of patients who arrive mentally injured by 
amateurs amusing themselves in this direction. They 


will soon discover that they are amateurs themselves, and 
must injure people unless they probe more deeply, and 
admit the existence of influences they still try to ignore. 
The priests, at all events, have the courage of their con- 
victions, and boldly say it is the devil." 

He reached Haifa in the end of February, and thus 
describes to Mrs Hankiu his arrival in a place which 
all his friends had feared he would find so solitary and 
desolate : 

"2d March [1887]. 

"I was most enthusiastically greeted by the German 
colony and my own little household, where I found every- 
thing running most smoothly. I feel more and more how 
Alice is really the directing spirit. It was like getting 
into Paradise to come here out of the turmoil of the world 
everything so calm and peaceful and lovely ; and the 
presence of my darling seems brooding over all, and fills 
me with an ineffable joy and peace, so that the associations 
with which I am surrounded are a positive pleasure, in- 
stead of being a pain. I seem to have got back to her 
again, where she can get so much nearer to me than she 
could in the world. My head is now getting full of the 
book you have been wanting, and the pressure to write 
what it would not have been possible for me to write in 
England is upon me ; but I doubt very much whether it 
will be what you desire, or be suited for your babes : but 
there are others to be thought of besides them. 

" I am busy writing," he adds a little later, " two pam- 
phlets one for the Moslems with quotations from the 
Koran, which is being translated into Arabic ; and another 
for the Jews with quotations from the Old Testament, 
which is being translated into Hebrew. It is perfectly 
wonderful how the light keeps breaking, and the quota- 
tions come in support of the thesis. It will be called 
the ' Star in the East.' and is in five short chapters : the 
first, the secrets of the world's malady ; the second, the 
origin of religions ; the third, the mission of the Messiah ; 


the fifth, the triumph of the Messiah. I shall probably 
be engaged during the summer in amplifying them for 
the Christians. Then possibly it may be adapted later 
to the Hindoos and Buddhists, with quotations from their 
sacred books, for they all contain the same truth in their 
hidden meaning." 

This pamphlet I have in English, the original, which 
I believe was translated into Arabic, but not, so far as 
I have ever heard, into Hebrew. It produces a curious 
effect upon the English reader by its many citations from 
the Koran, and the perfect equality upon which that book 
is placed with the Gospels. This, of course, was what- has 
been called " economical," as specially adapted to those 
under the Mohammedan " dispensation " ; and as Laurence 
was of opinion not only that the sacred books of every 
religion were, in their hidden meaning, equally inspired, 
he also considered as inspired all the men who have 
largely influenced the human race, whether Moses, Mo- 
hammed, or Buddha ; although our Lord always held 
with him the highest place, as a being of a different 
and more perfect kind from any of these great men. 
It was perhaps also in compliance with the " economy " 
under which the primitive peoples whom he addressed 
were living, that his statement of certain of his more 
peculiar tenets is more exact and clear in this singular 
tract than it had ever been before. His belief in the 
original creation of man in a semi-spiritual body, a be- 
ing containing both sexes in one, and in the change of 
nature produced at the Fall, when the two were divided, 
made into distinct beings, and for the first 'time clothed in 
flesh is stated with curious exactitude. Our Lord he 
describes as having been by His miraculous birth restored 
to this double being, and thus made capable of commu- 
nicating the divine breath to the world, which was the 
true and only bond of union, and by which gradually the 
original nature was to be restored. " And this combined 
force has been slowly growing in men's powers ever since, 
so that now many men begin to feel that they have the 
female half inclosed within them, and many women begin 


to feel that they have the male half inclosed within them." 
But this physical transformation was not to be attained 
but by much suffering and many struggles, both within 
and without. 

" It is by the active and conscientious performance of 
daily duties, by the cultivation of pure love, humility, and 
upright dealing, and purity, that the frame can be prepared 
for the conscious presence of the other half, and for the 
descent of Christ as the comforter and bridegroom. When 
the body has, after long trials, been thus prepared, the next 
stage can be entered upon, concerning which it is not per- 
mitted to write yet. Enough has been said to show how 
Christ is making a descent even now into the very bodies 
of those who love Him ; how this descent is the fulfilment 
of the promise made in all the existing religions, of the 
advent of the Messiah in the last days ; and how this 
advent will prove the cure for the world's malady." 

This extraordinary statement is nowhere, I think, so 
strongly and simply put. It was translated into Arabic by 
the one Arab convert made, I think, to its doctrines a 
man not, unfortunately, of much credit to his leaders. " If 
it were printed or came to the knowledge of Government, it 
would mean my expulsion from the country," Laurence says; 
" so it can only be communicated secretly to such of the 
Arabs, Moslems, or Christians as would be likely to receive 
it." I do not know whether any further result followed. 

" I feel bursting with what I have to say to Christians," 
he adds, " but my directions seem to indicate that it must 
be written from beginning to end at Dalieli, where I shall 
go probably in about a month. It was quite wonderful the 
accession of Alice's influence which I felt when I was up 

Curiously, into the midst of the account of all these 
mystical productions comes a description of an entertain- 
ment which Laurence gave to his neighbours Germans, 
Arabs, and Moslems on the occasion of the Queen's 
Jubilee. Even this was not without religious meaning, 
for it was specially designed to open a way to dealing 


with the women, who were all invited an event unprece- 
dented in the country. 

" I was asked to assign for the women a place apart, but 
this was refused on the ground that I could make no dis- 
tinction between Arab Christian women and European 
Christian women, of whom there would be plenty coming. 
It ended by all the Arab Christian women coming, and 
very few Moslems; but this was only because it was 
Ramadan, when they can't eat or drink before sunset. I 
had considerably over 300 people. I counted twenty-three 
different nationalities, and thirteen religions or sects. Such 
a jumble was never known here before. Indeed, nothing 
of the kind has ever been attempted. I had two tents up, 
flags flying, the German band playing, plenty of chorus- 
singing, speechifying, &c. The Arabs gave two addresses 
complimentary to the Queen, and there were others in 
German and French. The Arab women all huddled 
together, but they giggled immensely at the novelty of 
their position, and absorbed any amount of refreshment. 
Of course, no woman would speak to a man, and that I 
did not expect ; but it was an uncommon step that they 
did not wear veils, which Christian women are only begin- 
ning to abandon." ' 

I pause before continuing and completing the record of 
his literary life by his own account of the composition of 
his last work, ' Scientific Religion/ to note the traces which 
I find among his papers of his interest and benevolent opera- 
tions in respect to the Jew colonists. A number of peti- 
tions and representations of urgent cases, both individual 
and public, in Hebrew (with translations), in German, 
and, most curious of all, in phonetic English, prove that 
to the end of his life he was appealed to by these poor 
people, and acted in some sort as an intermediary between 
them and the benevolent-rich of their nation, who were 
not less puzzled how to treat, and how to understand, the 
colonies which it was their strong desire to plant in Pales- 
tine, than are the rest of the world. Much incapacity on 
the part of the poor -Jews, suddenly" plunged into a new 


world, some dishonesty, some idleness, a great deal of 
misery, appear in these records ; but Laurence by no 
means seems to have given up his belief in the plan, or 
to have decided at any time, after many opportunities of 
observation, that it was bound to fail, as others less in- 
formed have summarily done. 

He seems to have regarded with particular interest the 
Beth Yehuda colony, composed of Jews from Safed the 
" city set upon a hill " of our Lord's simile, which still 
sits high upon the hills of Galilee, and is one of the last 
strongholds of the native Jewish race. The community 
there is chiefly supported, I believe, as are the Jews in 
Jerusalem, by contributions from the wealthy Jews of 
Europe; and the impulse which prompted a portion of 
them to settle themselves in the plains, and attempt farm- 
ing there, was highly applauded by Laurence, as an honest 
effort after independence. "I think you understand its 
peculiar character," he says, in a letter to Major Goldsmid, 
" and the advantages of colonising Safed Jews, and turn- 
ing into agriculturists natives of the country who have 
hitherto lived on the Haluka. With the present Govern- 
ment, the only colony which has a fair chance is one com- 
posed of natives of whom the authorities are not jealous, 
as they are of foreign immigrants. I hope, therefore, that 
the Anglo-Jewish Association will give this one a helping 
hand." He speaks of it in an after letter as " the best ex- 
periment of the kind which exists in Palestine," a " really 
deserving colony," with "more chance of success than 
any strangers could have." One hopes that these poor 
colonists throve, if only for the delightful English in 
which the following formal report of their circumstances 
is written : 


1 In wich place ? . . . . From Tel-el-Fares, Sout east, tow hours ; 

from Tel-abu-Nicla, Nord west, tow 

2 Woth was the name be- At present colled Chirbet-belled el Rom- 

fore ? sanie ; in Olden times colled liomy. 


3. Omeny Dullam in clods About 15,000. About 5000 prary ; 2000 

in wolle ? for planting Treas and wine gardens ; 

1000 for Wegitation, wolle foul of 
Wather ; 7000 for crope. 

4. Omeny springs ? . . . 3 Springs largeoons ; 13 Sometimes flood 

in difret directions. 

5. Ofar to a city ? .... To city of Komet-re, 2 hauhors ; to Dam- 

askus, 14 ; to the rever Jorden, 3 ; to 
Acka, 13 hauhors. 

6. Wath kind of catel ? . . Wolle kind. Kaus, 8 ; Oksens, 10; Orshes, 

4 ; Donkes, 2 ; Gouts, 30. 

7. Plouing Tooles ? . . . Komen Arabien pious, 5. 

8. Omeny buildings ? . . . One big Bilding, 38 jards long, 18 wide ; 

6 stables for catel ; plenti of stons wolle 
redy to beld from the pondations. 

9. In wich state ? .... In the state of Damaskus, coantry of 


10. The name of the niborgs The are called Benei Herat, Mochamedins, 

tribes. Arabians. 

11. The land is divided between the Familes in dinomte of Fadans. Every 

fadan incloodes 160 Dullam, some ocupaing 2 Fadan. 

A long list of names follows, in which the heads of the 
families are described as " Worcingman, Shoumacer, Fien 
Smith, Budcear " (butcher), &c. ; with the number of the 
" childerin, boyes and gerls," to each. There is a pathetic 
air of reality about the document. The following is what 
is described as a free translation from the Hebrew original 
of petition enclosed with it, from a smaller and less im- 
portant colony : 

"To the honourable and benevolent Sir Oliphant, un- 
ceasing in his good deeds, we come to-day before he sets 
out on his intended journey. We do bless him with all 
our hearts, and pray that he may arrive at his destination 
safely, and that God may protect him and -be with him to 
the end of his journey. Up to the present time we have 
done all in our power not to become the objects of charity, 
and we are truly grateful to his honour for the former 
many kindnesses which he has voluntarily shown us. And 
his past kindness makes us bold enough to ask him to 
afford us some relief in this time of our great need. 

"The honourable Abraham Magal was nominated to 
act as our superintendent, to afford us protection, and to 
inspire us with courage and strengthen us in our weak- 


ness. But to our sorrow and trouble he died ; for God 
took his soul under His wings, and thus we are left with- 
out help and protection. We are now thirty- two souls, 
reduced to the lowest extremity, so that our situation has 
become unendurable, and so that we are compelled to 
send the brave Fishel Solomon as our representative to 
lay our matter before you, to whom we call God as our 

I resume the record of his life, by the following account 
of his projects and consolations a little while after his 
return to Haifa, in a letter to Mrs Walker: 

" HAIFA, 29th March 1887. 

" I am sorry, too, that we had not more opportunity of 
quiet conversation than was possible in London, because 
so much has been developing in my mind and experience 
since Alice left me ; but no doubt there was some good 
reason for it, and I think before long you may have an 
opportunity of reading a good deal of it, for I think I 
shall shortly begin a book dealing with the whole subject 
in a way that he that runs may read, which was not the 
case with ' Sympneumata.' ... So far from feeling sad- 
dened by the surroundings which recall Alice at every 
moment, I am now feeling a happiness and joy which I 
thought when I left this I never could feel again. I 
can walk in the garden with her, and seem to feel her 
suggesting what ought to be done. Then I like to feel 
living in the midst of a community who all knew and 
loved her. There is scarcely a German cottage in which 
her photograph is not hanging up framed. The Druses 
in the mountains treat the monument I have put up to 
her with the greatest veneration. It is a sacred spot to 
them, for they say that, although she was not conscious 
of it, she was a Druse all the time, and is one now. 
Your picture is a great pleasure to me : it is in my bed- 
room, and my own fancy suggests that the expression of 
it seems to change, but of course that is only the effect 
of one's own imagination though it is none the less 


strange that one's imagination (whatever that may be) 
should have such power." 

As the summer of 1887 advanced, the usual move to 
Dalieh was made, and from that place Laurence wrote 
to Mrs Hankin, intimating that his great work had been 
begun : 

" DALIEH, July 5 [1887]. 

"I can only write you a short letter this time, for a 
reason that I know you will rejoice in viz., that I am 
hard at work writing the book you have been so long 
urging. I have already written what amounts to a third 
of ' Sympneumata,' and feel there is a great deal more. 
The influx began to press powerfully into me, as soon as 
I felt myself in the absolute solitude of the mountain, 
with its still and tranquil beauty. I have fitted up the 
little room in which my Alice left me as a sanctum, in 
more senses of the word than one, hung it round with 
curtains, and carpeted it, and put up the oil-painting of 
her, and here she visits me while I write, and I feel her 
thoughts impregnating mine, and forcing themselves into 
expression, and unfolding wonderful things to me so 
simply that I hope all who run may read and understand. 
This was why she did not want me to write when you 
were urging me to do so in London. It was impossible 
in that polluted magnetic atmosphere for her to come to 
me as she can here, where her spirit lingered to the last 

" I am so absorbed in my work," he writes a month 
later, " that I grudge every moment taken from it. Alice 
is doing wonders, and developing ideas in me of which I 
had no conception. It is therefore as interesting to write 
as a novel, for I never know what is coining next. I have 
already written an amount equal to ' Sympneumata,' and 
it seems developing. It seems necessary that I should 
go with it to England when it is finished, so I hope it 
may not be long before I see you again. I don't suppose 
I shall stay long in England, as I have work to do both 


in America and Japan, so I suppose I shall return hither 
by that route. My life here is extremely calm and un- 
eventful. . . . The book is the great thing : it states the 
whole spiritual situation, and if people want to know 
what I believe, they will find there, I hope, an intelligible 
account of it. My whole mornings seem spent with Alice, 
and I think she has used the time to put new strength 
into me." 

Another letter to Mrs Walker announces the comple* 
tion of the work: 

" HAIFA, 25th September 1887. 

" I have just finished a book which has quite absorbed 
me during my stay on the mountain. It is the final con- 
clusion at which I have arrived after twenty-three years' 
struggle, and I feel Alice inspiring every word of it. It 
was written in the room where she died, with your picture 
on an easel by the side of my writing-table. It seemed to 
help to bring her. It stands before me now, and I some- 
times fancy I can detect changes in the expression. The 
book came with remarkable clearness and force, and most 
of what it contains is new to me; but it solves and ex- 
plains so much, that I hope it may be a help to many. 
When I had finished it, I could not help ejaculating, ' Lord, 
now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.' It seemed 
such an ample compensation for all I have suffered and 
gone through such a consolation to think that one's life 
has not been wasted. But whether Blackwood will publish 
it, or what the public will say to it, is a very different 

His letters to his publisher at this period are also full 
of the book which was his prevailing occupation. "It 
will be altogether an extraordinary book," he says, evidently 
without the least idea of an author's vanity, regarding it 
as something apart from himself. " I can't help thinking 
I will explode rather noisily on the sleeping consciences 
of the public." Later he desires that nothing may 
be printed beyond the tenth chapter, as "new lights 


flash upon me containing ideas which have to be inter- 

" In fact, I never know when the book is really finished. 
I have never written anything which seemed to descend 
into my brain with such an irresistible force and demand 
to be put into words, and I am as much surprised at what 
I write as any of my readers are likely to be. I never 
enjoyed such a period of delicious rest and peace as I felt 
while writing this. ... I think you will find the last part 
of my book much more easy to understand than the first. 
I shall call it, I think, ' The Divine Feminine.' " 

This title, however, was not adopted, probably from the 
alarm with which it would be received by all friends ; but 
it was not till some time after that the title not a very 
successful one by which it was finally published was at 
last decided upon. Nothing could exceed his satisfaction 
in having accomplished this work. 

The last time I ever saw him was in the early summer 
of 1887 in Mr Blackwood's rooms in London. The im- 
pression he made upon me on this occasion was that he 
was much more entirely absorbed in his religious views than 
I had ever seen him, and cared less for any intercourse 
which was not upon that subject. A carelessness, almost 
impatience, of other topics and persons than those occupied 
like himself with one all-engrossing inquiry, which I had 
never remarked before, seemed to possess him. " I have 
laid my egg," he said, with a laugh of excitement and half- 
defiance, as if forestalling any criticism. 

The much more intimate understanding and sympathy 
of his mother-in-law, Mrs Wynne Finch, to whom since 
his wife's death he had shown a special attachment and 
devotion, perceived the same change on his appearance 
in her house in Paris immediately before coming to Lon- 
don. She found him weak and worn out in frame, which 
indeed was partly to be accounted for by the fact that 
during his long mystical retirement in Dalieh he had lived 
entirely on rice, while wound up to the utmost possible 
spiritual excitement and strain of physical work. 


I may be pardoned for adding here, that so little did I 
find his promise of greater intelligibility carried out in his 
new work, that, taking the book away with me in sheets, 
for the purpose of reviewing it in a newspaper to which 
I happened to have access at the moment, I turned niy 
proposed review, in despair, into a rapid sketch of the cir- 
cumstances and promise with which the book was about 
to come into the world, the remarkable character of the 
author, and the certainty that such a man, writing upon a 
subject which had occupied him for so many years, must, 
in the nature of things, merit the most respectful hearing, 
and have much that was interesting and important to say. 
I have, however, found it an excellent argument for humility 
to discover since, that many people worthy of all respect 
have found in it the power and instruction its author so 
fervently believed in, but which, for my own part, I was 
unable to see. 

With the publication of this book Laurence Oliphant 
may, I think, be said to disappear from that place in the 
world which he had hitherto held. He was lost among a 
crowd of inquirers, of sympathisers, of people anxious to 
be convinced of his supernatural experiences and to share 
his faith in them. I discover with surprise, yet with a 
certain satisfaction which I have no doubt many spectators 
of the last acts of his life will share, that by this time, in 
the opinion of some of his anxious friends, the first warmth 
of inspiration breathed into him by the spirit of his wife 
had begun to fail, and that he was no longer so strongly 
moved by the " influx " as he had been when he came to 
England straight from her deathbed. It could scarcely be 
expected that he himself, so fully convinced as he was of 
the " great work " which remained to be done, would readily 
accept this as a sign that it would be better for him to 
retire a little and be silent, or to acknowledge himself at 
all deserted by what had been his guiding star. Another 
expedient was thought of to bring back the force of in- 
spiration, and keep him in full strength for that work. 
At this point the impressions of his friend Mrs Hankin 
come in to instruct us as to the state of his mind and 
.wishes : 


" As soon as we met I perceived that the singular spir- 
itual force, which to my consciousness differentiated Mr 
Oliphant from all other men whom I had ever met, was 
no longer, as before, almost of the nature of a persistent 
attribute allied to his own original character. The sense 
of great spiritual power no longer accompanied his mere 
presence. It was only when the sudden spiritual visita- 
tion came objectively upon him in a strange rippling 
vibration that I recognised the influx of his Alice, and 
the sense of spiritual uplifting and exhilaration which I 
had formerly experienced. I soon found that his whole 
heart was set upon a period of usefulness in England ; but 
to support the chain of magnetic life which he poured out 
on others, it was essential that he should be helped by the 
magnetism of some woman who sympathised with his aims 
and understood his views. As I happened to be at hand, 
he asked me to help him." 

This lady, always full of sense and a moderate though 
strongly believing view of the new faith, and who had 
before now opposed her instinctive consciousness of what 
was and what was not practicable, in the way of its propa- 
gation and development, to his more eager desires, hesi- 
tated for some time before becoming his " colleague," 
according to his own phraseology ; but eventually did so, 
I believe, for a short time, though always reluctantly, and 
became in a way as mysterious as was the former mani- 
festation, if not more so the medium by which that 
" strange vibration " and " rippling " of nerves and frame, 
which, indicating the coming in of the " influx " into his soul, 
was communicated to him, the spirit pouring its influence 
through her hands as it had done at first through his own. 
These are mysteries with which only a mind entirely in 
sympathy should attempt to meddle. And one cannot but 
feel that while it was sufficiently hurtful to his individ- 
uality and personal dignity, as well as to the balance of 
his mind, to be always on the strain of expectation for 
communications from the unseen, it must have been still 
more so when these communications had to be procured 
through the ministrations of another. 


Very few indications from himself come out of the mys- 
tical world which enclosed him after this point. He ap- 
pears for a moment now and then in a passing visit, in a 
glimpse, and then disappears again but the indications 
are vague. He went to America in the spring of 1888, 
and returned early in August. During this short time, 
however, an important event occurred, which I cannot 
describe better than in his own words. The following 
letter to Mrs Wynne Finch is the first, as far as I am 
aware, received from him after his return. He had gone 
straight, on landing, to the house of Mrs Hankin at 
Malvern : 

" MALVERN, August 4, 1888. 

" I am so sorry that I missed seeing you, but events 
have proved too strong for me, and I shall not be in Lon- 
don for a fortnight. I landed at Plymouth, and came over 
here, to carry out a purpose which forced itself upon me 
somewhat suddenly during my passage. I am afraid you 
will think it somewhat strange, and I wish I could have 
explained it to you by word of mouth instead of by letter ; 
but still I think you will understand it better than most 
people. I was induced by a curious combination of cir- 
cumstances to make a pilgrimage 1100 miles from New 
York to see a lady of whom I had only heard, but who I 
found to be a most remarkable person. She had reached 
all my results nothing in ' Scientific Eeligion ' was new 
to her ; but she had never read anything either Alice or I 
had written, and scarcely knew of me. Her faculty of 
internal insight is far more intense than that of any one I 
ever met, and we felt after an hour's interview that we 
must combine our forces, as my work with women is too 
difficult and compromising for me to carry on alone. Still 
the thought of marriage never entered our heads, as she is 
a strong-minded person, but she decided to come to Haifa 
with me. But on the passage she was brought into very 
close relations with Alice, and at the same time felt that 
Alice wanted me to give her the protection of my name. 
So I decided to come here to have a civil ceremony per- 
formed. She realises Alice most intensely, and brings her 


closer to me than I ever felt her, so that instead of in any 
way separating me from her, it unites me more closely, 
while she can work through us combined more powerfully 
than through me alone. The lady's name is Eosamond 
Dale Owen. She is the daughter of Eobert Dale Owen, 
and granddaughter of E'obert Owen both men who were 
celebrated in their day, the former especially so. I am 
sure you would like her if you knew her. I am obliged 
to stay here for the fortnight's residence that is required 
by law, and shall then probably be a fortnight or three 
weeks more between London and Paris, reaching Haifa, I 
hope, somewhere about the end of September." 

This prospect was never to be realised. The marriage 
took place, to the great astonishment of many friends who 
only heard it when it was announced by the papers, and 
to whom naturally the reasons for this step were unknown. 
And he had not been married more than a day or two 
when he was seized with the painful illness of which he 
died, so that the lady, who thus forsook her country and 
her home to help in his sacred mission, as he understood 
it, found herself almost from the moment of her marriage 
confined to the functions of a nurse, perhaps not less 
sacred, and which she discharged with the utmost devo- 
tion. In a second letter to Mrs Wynne Finch, before this 
event, in which Laurence expressed a grateful appreciation 
of her kind and affectionate reception of a piece of intelli- 
gence which could scarcely be agreeable to her, and under- 
standing of his motives he insists still further upon the 
peculiar circumstances under which he acted : 

" Your letter was a great comfort to me, for it showed 
me that you understood my motives. It is very difficult 
for people to realise that my marriage can actually draw 
me closer and cement more firmly my spiritual tie with 
Alice than ever ; but we are discovering so many mysteries 
unknown to the world. I should have been myself the 
last person to think it possible a year ago. I am sorry I 
shall not have an opportunity of explaining it in a way 
that is impossible in a letter, but of this you may be quite 


sure, that the only difference it will make in our relations 
to each other will be to increase the warmth of my love 
for you. It will be very kind of you to tell [here various 
friends are mentioned by name], and try and explain that 
this does not imply any want of faithfulness to Alice's 
memory, but is, in fact, only carrying out her wishes. It is 
a duty imposed upon me by the necessities of the situation. 
As the number of people, especially women, increases with 
whom I have to deal, it has become absolutely necessary for 
her to have a human assistant of her own sex. She gets so 
exhausted with the amount of work she has to do, that I 
feel her fatigue. It is a great mistake to suppose that 
beings in the invisible have an unlimited supply of nervous 
magnetism : they get tired just as we do." 

Explanations almost identical with the above were made 
to Mrs Walker and to various other friends. 

The marriage took place at Malvern on the 16th August 
1888, and the above letter is the last I have from his own 
hand. A few days after their marriage Laurence and his 
new wife went to Surbiton to pay a visit to the always 
kind friends of a former period of life, Mr and Mrs Walker, 
who had so tenderly befriended Alice Oliphant in Califor- 
nia, and whose constant friendship had followed Laurence 
through every vicissitude. They had scarcely arrived 
there when he was attacked by illness so violent as to put 
his life in immediate danger. And in future all the cor- 
respondence that concerned him consists of a series of 
bulletins, the first of which is dated from Mr Walker's 
house at Surbiton. " My husband had a most dangerous 
crisis yesterday and the night before," Mrs Rosamond 
Oliphant wrote, on the 29th August. "The attack has 
been malignant pleurisy : the doctors gave us almost no 
hope, and are astonished at the turn for the better, but 
I feel assured that the unseen powers guarding my 
dear husband have lifted him up." From this time till 
the end of October he, his wife, and his Bulgarian ser- 
vant Yani, remained in the house of these invaluable 
and devoted friends, who, though with sickness and 
trouble of their own in their family, afforded every alle- 

2 c 


viation that kindness and friendship could give to the 
sufferer. Such friends few men secure for themselves. 
Nor was it even made easier to Mr and Mrs Walker by 
kindred beliefs or discipleship. The bond between them 
was one of human affection alone, and unceasing bounty and 
goodness on their part to him who still lived and suffered, 
as to her whom they had loved and sheltered in her Cali- 
fornian exile. The record of such a good deed, continuous 
through months of helplessness, is almost a unique one. 

Better and better as the time went on were the san- 
guine accounts that were given of him week after week 
by the strong faith of the wife whose confidence in " the 
unseen powers " was so undoubting ; but she was yet 
obliged to allow from time to time that his progress was 
slow. In the beginning of November, a change of air 
being considered desirable, he was removed to York 
House, Twickenham, the interesting historical mansion 
inhabited by other kind friends, Sir Mountstuart and 
Lady Grant Duff, to which Laurence had a cordial invi- 
tation, and where the sad yet still sanguine party were 
housed in a suite of beautiful and spacious rooms, with 
one of the most charming of English landscapes the 
softly flowing Thames on one side, the great trees and 
velvet lawns on the other under their windows. Their 
hostess gave up her own sitting-room to the comfort of 
the invalid, then able to be up for some hours every day, 
and again the hopes of the anxious group surrounding him 
rose high. He had been condemned by all the doctors 
consulted, who considered his case hopeless from the first ; 
but the hopes of the sufferer, and those immediately about 
him, were fixed on other help than those of medicine. 
While he was at York House, Mr Haskett Smith, one 
of the gentlemen who had been associated with him for 
some years at Haifa his right hand and most trusted 
helper there was summoned to his sick-bed, and it was 
hoped for a time that the power in him, combined with 
that of Mrs Oliphant, might still suffice to work the mir- 
acle they looked for. It did so, they flattered themselves, 
at least to the extent of keeping the patient fcee to a 
great degree from pain. The physician who attended him 


is reported to have said that " he had never known a case 
before in which the patient had not suffered weeks of agony, 
yet so far as this part of his disease went, he suffered al- 
most no pain." 

All the signs, however, which buoyed his attendants up, 
his own cheerful and patient confidence, and the determined 
faith which would not acknowledge any possible failing, 
had at last to give way to the certainty which could not 
be ignored. Throughout his long illness Laurence had 
been to a considerable extent brought back, out of the 
close circle of believers and mystical experimentalists who 
had surrounded him on his return from Haifa in the 
beginning of the year to the friends of his life, from 
many of whom he received visits while he lay, slowly 
dying as everybody believed, but as full of humour, of 
interest in life, of genial talk as ever, making that chamber 
of sickness the brightest of reception-rooms, and leaving 
the most characteristic impression of his own always en- 
gaging and brilliant individuality upon his visitors. This 
had never altogether ceased to be the case at any time, 
but it revived in the most affecting and beautiful way 
in this last chapter of his life, in which not only his 
intellectual gifts and perceptions, but the delightful light- 
heartedness and fun, to use a familiar but most expressive 
word, which had made intercourse with him a continual ex- 
hilaration, came back to him with all their original fresh- 
ness. Even his wife, who would naturally be little disposed 
to dwell upon that side of his character, speaks of herself 
in the midst of the long watches of these weary nights as 
" more amused with his wit " than she had ever been with 
any one before. As the conclusion drew nearer, the bright- 
ness of his outlook did but increase. It had been for some 
time a heavy thought to him that he might linger for years 
as a hopeless invalid confined to his bed : but even that 
feeling disappeared a few weeks before the end in the 
cheerful conviction that " I can carry on Christ's work on 
a sick-bed, if He so wishes it, as if I were well." 

That dear and sacred name was ever on his tongue. 
There had been times in his life when he had spoken it 
with an accent of perhaps less reverence than was con- 


genial to listeners probably less devout than he, but hold- 
ing a more absolute view of our Lord's position and work 
as there had been times when he had called himself not 
a Christian, in the ordinary meaning of the word. But no 
one could doubt now of his entire and loving reception of 
that name as his own highest hope as well as that of all 
the world. A day or two before his death he called his 
faithful nurse early in the morning, probably in that rising 
of the energies which comes with the brightness of the day, 
and told her that he was " unspeakably happy." " Christ 
has touched me. He has held me in His arms. I am 
changed He has changed me. Never again can I be the 
same, for His power has cleansed me ; I am a new man." 
" Then he looked at me yearningly," she adds, " and said, 
' Do you understand ? " As he lay there dozing, smiling, 
with the look of this exultation never leaving his face 
through the long last hours that followed, he was heard to 
hum and sing in snatches the hymn, " Safe in the arms of 
Jesus." Who knows where he had learnt it ? perhaps 
at some American " revival " or camp meeting, where the 
keen observer would catch up unawares and with a smile 
at himself the homely strain, which thus floated back to 
the memory of the dying the hymn of the humblest be- 
liever, the simplest certainty of a faith unencumbered with 
any new lights. 

Lady Grant Duff has told me that when he lay in the 
last weakness, in the wintry noon of his dying day, his 
last words were for " more light " : one wonders whether 
because the darkness was really gaining on him, or be- 
cause of some wandering recollection in the confused 
musings of a mind shut up from all immediate influences, 
of the other great intelligence which is recorded in history 
to have made that piteous appeal. " His last conscious 
moment on Sunday," adds his wife, " was one of hope and 
effort lifewards." The actual end was complete and per- 
fect peace. " He passed away as into a tranquil sleep, 
and woke four hours after in another world, or rather 
under another form, without having tasted death either 
physically or spiritually." Thus this extraordinary, varied, 
and noble life came to an end. 


Sufficient time has now elapsed since then to permit a 
summary which it would have been difficult to make at 
the moment of one of the most interesting men of his 
time, an embodiment in many ways at once of its eager 
movement, curiosities, and enthusiasm, and of its impa- 
tience with the conditions in which the social life of an 
almost extreme civilisation is cast. The central fact of 
his life, his renunciation of all that the world could give 
at a moment when everything seemed possible to him, 
in order that he might " live the life," and do something 
towards the bringing in of a higher state and purified 
ideal, will always remain the fact most interesting in it. 
Few are the men at any portion of the world's history who 
have been able to make such a sacrifice ; and it does not 
detract from it that he was, at the moment of making it, 
filled with that disgust of the imperfections and falsehoods 
of society to which the idealist is prone : for he loved 
society while he hated it, and in every inclination and 
desire belonged to that world in which all that is most 
brilliant and beautiful is included with so much that is 
contemptible and base. He had no ascetic tendency, and 
esteemed honour and social elevation as much as any man, 
yet was ready, without a moment's hesitation, to throw 
them all from him for the sake of what seemed to him a 
better way. He loved variety, change, movement, the ex- 
citement of the new and unknown, yet accepted the mon- 
otony of dreary labour, the society of a narrow handful 
of undistinguished people, the obliteration of every hope, 
in a high ambition and fervent desire to ameliorate and 
purify the world. His teaching may not come to much 
among the many wandering voices which have echoed in 
the wilderness ; but he himself is more than many books, 
or a world of sermons : and is perhaps in himself the les- 
son at once of greatness and insufficiency, of the noble- 
wisdom of the heart, and the limitations of human reason 
and power which he had to teach to the world. 

He gave up for what he believed to be the work of God 
everything that he had formerly thought most worth hav- 
ing in the world renouncing all, not sadly or painfully, 
but with all the joyousness and cordial warmth of a nature 


ful of sunshine. No idea of penance or voluntary humil- 
iation was in his thoughts, as nothing more unlike an 
ascetic could be imagined than his life. He loved life, and 
enjoyed it, and was amused and interested by every detail 
of it, as much when he was following his mud-cart in the 
American wilds as when he was dining with princes or 
comparing experiences with statesmen. But to him it was 
the most simple and natural of impulses to throw aside 
whatever stood in the way of the work to which he believed 
God called him, and that without even a passing thought 
of merit in the renunciation. His sacrifices did not weigh 
upon his mind as they did upon ours. To us they seem 
unparalleled self-abnegation, to him the simplest necessity. 
Words are not sufficient to mark the singular contrast. 
The priests and martyrs of the old ages had even too much 
conscience of what they were doing, and never made light 
of the sacrifice; but the nineteenth century has this ad- 
vantage over its predecessors which we call the ages of 
faith. It is all for materialism, for profit, for personal 
advantage the most self-interested, the least ideal of ages. 
But when, here and there, a generous spirit, emancipated 
from these bonds, rises above the age, his sacrifice is no 
longer marked with gloom, or made into an operation of 
pain ; it is a willing offering, more than willing, uncon- 
sidered, lavish, gay, the joyous giving up, without a back- 
ward look or thought, of everything for the love of God 
except the love of man, warmed and mellowed by the 
divine flame which, with no cloud of smoke or odour of 
burnt-offering, ascends clear and brilliant as light itself to 
the realms above. 

Of such were both Laurence and Alice Oliphant she, 
if possible, more fearless, less considerate of accessories 
and worldly consequences, than he, with that absolutism 
and superiority to restraining possibilities which belong to 
a woman. And yet, I think, complete as their self-sacri- 
fice was, that they never lost a wholesome hold of life and 
its common laws until the supreme moment when they 
ascended into their mountain solitude, entered their cham- 
ber, and shut to their door, and attained to what they 
felt to be the climax of their existence, the final proof of 


all their theories and carrying out of their hopes, the 
strange mutual ecstasy of inspiration and composition 
which produced ' Sympneumata,' that book so unlike 
either of them, so involved in diction, so wild and wan- 
dering in thought, as if two crystal springs had united to 
form a turbid and overshadowed pool. But neither of 
this does it become an outside and wondering spectator to 
speak. For this mystic work so strangely produced the 
only child, as it were, of these two clear and elevated souls 
has been a breathing of light and comfort to many, and 
carried to some aching hearts a consciousness of, and be- 
lief in, the world unseen, which other teachings have not 
sufficed to give. Such evidence in its favour is more than 
all the confused intellect, vainly trying to bring it to a 
human standard of reason, can say against it. 

They lie separated by land and sea, she in the little 
Friedhof at Haifa, among the friendly German folk, who 
still give a kind of worship to her dear and gracious name ; 
he in the cemetery at Twickenham, on the edge of that 
greater world which so soon forgets, and makes so few 
pilgrimages. But the generation, not only of his contem- 
poraries "but of their children, must be exhausted indeed 
before the name of Laurence Oliphant will cease to con- 
jure up memories of all that was most brilliant in intel- 
lect, most tender in heart, most trenchant in attack, most 
eager to succour in life. There has been no such bold 
satirist, no such cynic philosopher, no such devoted en- 
thusiast, no adventurer so daring and gay, no religious 
teacher so absolute and visionary, in this Victorian age, 
now beginning to round towards its end, and which holds 
in its long and brilliant roll no more attractive and inter- 
esting name. 


Abergeldie, 381. 

Abruzzi, the, 161. 

Acre, Bay of, 324. 


Adriatic coast, the, 159. 

Adventures during the campaign 
of 1870 and 1871, 227. 

" Adventures of a War Correspon- 
dent," 228 et seq. 

Alcock, Mr, afterwards Sir 
Rutherford, 150, 151, 153, 154. 

Alison, Mr, 100. 

' Altiora Peto,' 327 mode of pub- 
lication, 328. 

America and Canada, 59. 

America, compulsory visit to, 233. 

Anglo - Jewish Association, the, 

Ashley, Hon. Evelyn, 165. 

Athlit, 332, 335. 

"Autobiography of a Joint-Stock 
Company," 275, 284. 

Azoff, Sea of, 48, 53, 133. 

Babbacombe Cliffe, 310. 

Ballard, Colonel John Archibald, 


Balmoral, invitation to, 381. 
Beaconsfield, Lord, 285. 
Benares, 22. 
Benicia, 281, 282. 
Benton, Colonel, 76. 

Berlin, 48. 

Beth Yehuda colony, 391. 
Beyrout, 338 adventurous jour- 
ney from, 287. 
' Biglow Papers,' 146. 
Bismarck, Prince, 232. 
Blackwood, John, 61, 162, 220, 
266,272 letter to, on the teach- 
ing of 'Piccadilly,' 191 letter 
to, on the explorations east of 
Jordan, 291 death of, 294. 
Blackwood, Miss, 381. 
Blackwood, William, 295, 301, 

327, 396. 

' Black wood's Magazine,' 162, 181, 
185, 221, 287, 292, 310, 318, 
361, 380. 

Blavatsky, Madame, 344. 
Bligh, Samuel, servant to I^aurence 
Oliphant, 154 letter to Lady 
Oliphant, 157. 

Bomba, King, bedchamber of, 149. 
Borthwick, Sir Algernon, 179. 
Bosphorus, the, 96, 97. 
Bower, 59th Regiment, 134. 
' Breath of God with Man, the,' by 

T. L. Harris, 212. 
"Brigand's Bride, the," 16. 
British Association at Aberdeen, 


Brocton settlement, 199, 203, 214, 
218-220, 224-226, 235, 239, 



257, 261, 2G2, 260, 267, 268, 
302, 304, 308, 321, 322, 325, 
328, 329, 331, 336, 342, 385. 

Brocton restaurant, 264. 

Broomhall, 172. 

Browning, Robert, 236. 

Bruce, Colonel, 74, 81. 

Bruce, Elizabeth, 2. 

Bruce, Lady Augusta, afterwards 
Stanley, 62. 

Buckner, Ernest, 336, 337, 339, 

Buddhist occultism, 346 esoteric 
science, ib. 

Burgoyne, Sir John, 61. 

Burton, Sir Richard F., 96. 

Cable Company in New York, the, 

Caird, James, 172. 

Cairo, Lord Elgin and suite at, 

Calcutta, 119. 

Caldwell, Lady, 79. 

Caldwell, Sir Henry, 79. 

California, 271, 278. 

Callirrhoe, fountains of, 288. 

Campbell of Monzie, 43. 

Campbell, Colonel, 72d High- 
landers, 3. 

Campbell, Lady, 175. 

Canadian Red men and their af- 
fairs, 86. 

Canning, Lord, 118, 119. 

Canton, 129, 134 bombardment 
of, 133. 

Capernaum, 365. 

Carmel, 331, 332. 

Carnbee, 2. 

Casey, Mrs, 342. 

Cavour, Count, 147. 

Cazalet, Mr, 317 ft seq. 

Chanzy's army, 232. 

China, Lord Elgin's mission to, 

Circassian expedition, proposed, 

Civil law examination, 43. 

Clarendon, Lord, 63, 94,95, 97, 98. 

Clark, Sir James, 169. 

Clark, Dr Thomas, 72d High- 
landers, 37, 130. 

' ' Clergyman of the Church of Eng- 
land," 384. 

Cloete, family of, 4. 

Cloverdale, 305. 

Cobden and Bright, 37. 

Cockburn, Captain, 114. 

Colombo, residence in, 13. 

Conder, Captain, 285. 

Condie, house of, 3, 7, 10. 

Corfu, 159. 

Corti, Count, 320. 

Counterpart, doctrine of, 296. 

Counterparts in married life, 303. 

Crawfurd's ' Peerage ' referred to, 2. 

Creeds and their power, 126. 

Crimea, the, 48 and the war, 93. 

Cumberland Lodge, 376. 

Cuthbert, Mrs, 323, 336, 339, 342, 

Cyprus as a wintering-place, 323. 

' Daily News,' 62. 

Dalieh, village of, 334, 335, 340, 

342, 343, 353, 355, 365, 366, 

369, 374, 389, 394, 396. 
Damascus, 337 proposed railway 

to, 338. 

Dead Sea, the, 287-288. 
Delane, John T., of the 'Times,' 

62, 111, 226, 272. 
De Ros, Lord, 60, 61. 
Devils, casting out, 200. 
Diligence travelling in 1841 and 

1847, 11, 15. 
Diplomacy, first experiences in, 


Disraeli, Benjamin, 192, 194. 
"Divine Feminine, the," 396. 
" Dollie and the Two Smiths," 


Don Cossacks, country of the, 57. 
Doyle, Richard, 220. 
Drowning, escape from,- 131. 
Druses, the, 331. 
Dual Godhead, doctrine of the, 




Dual principle, the, 303. 
Duff, Lady Grant, 402, 404. 
Duff, Sir Mountstuart Grant, 402. 
Dufferin, Lady, 321. 
Dufferin, Lord, 272, 320. 

East Sheen, 34. 

Eastern question, the, 62. 

Edinburgh, residence in, 42 visit 

to, 381. 

Egerton, Algernon, 43. 
Elephant hunt, 27. 
Elgin, Lord, 62, 63, 67, 68, 74, 

76, 79, 80, 87, 89, 91, 92, 93, 

118, 119, 120, 129, 132, 134, 

135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 150, 

158, 168. 
English bar, 40. 
' English Illustrated Magazine,' 

' Episodes in a Life of Adventure,' 

361, 380. 

Erskine, James, 5. 
Erskine, Thomas, 85. 
Esfia, 334, 340. 
Esoteric Buddhism, 343, 344. 

Faraday, Professor, and the ex- 
posure of mediums, 193. 

' Fashionable Philosophy,' 162 
publication of, 344. 

Fawcett, Miss, afterwards Mrs 
Cuthbert, 186. 

Finch, Mr Wynne, 236. 

Finch, Mrs Wynne, 299, 316, 
336, 372, 386, 396, 399, 400. 

Foster, John, essayist, 37, 38. 

Fowler, Mrs, 336, 339, 342. 

Franco-German war, the, 226. 

Fremont, Colonel, 76. 

Friedhof at Haifa, 407. 

Fruits grown in the Jordan valley, 

Galle, 118. 

Garibaldi, 147, 148, 149. 
Gask Oliphants, the, 3. 
Gepp, Rev. E. F., 10, 12. 
German colonists at Haifa, 237. 

Ghor Seisaban, description of, 289. 
Gladstone, W. E., 192, 194. 
Glasgow, lectures in, 170. 
Goldsmid, Major, 313, 325, 391. 
Gordon, General, 96, 129, 360 

his visit to Haifa, 340, 341. 
Gould, Jay, 274. 
Granville, Lord, 226. 
"Great African Mystery, the," 


Great Exhibition of 1851, 35. 
' Great Republic, the : a Poem of 

the Sun,' by Thomas Lake 

Harris, referred to, 191, 283. 
Greenock, lectures at, 170 amus 

ing experience in, 171. 

Haifa, a Syrian town, 237, 324, 
325, 326, 327, 329, 330, 331, 
332, 335, 351, 353, 354, 359, 
362, 365, 369, 385, 386, 387, 
393, 395, 399, 400, 402, 403. 

' Haifa ; or, Life in Modern Pales- 
tine,' 332. 

Hamilton, Miss, letter to, 344. 

Hamley, General, at Buyukdere", 

Hankin, Mrs, 198, 358, 359, 360 
374, 376, 377, 385, 387, 394, 
397, 399. 

Harpers' "Half-Hour Series," 277. 

Harris, Thomas Lake, his preach- 
ing in London, 186 Laurence 
Oliphant's first reference to him, 
il>. the meagre information re- 
garding his antecedents, 187 
correspondence of some of his 
views to those of Swedenborg, 
ib. his sympathetic powers, 
188 the obedience demanded 
of his disciples, 189 Oliphant's 
intercourse with the prophet, 
190 his sermons, 195 his in- 
accessibility, 197 the commun- 
ity at Brocton, 198 asked to 
cast out devils, 1 99 his powers 
of spiritual torture, 200 con- 
trols the domestic life of the 
community, 201 two years' 



probation of disciples, 202 re- 
nunciation, 204 Oliphant's ex- 
position and defence of the 
views of Harris, 205 et seq. 
a Quaker convert's explanation 
of the doctrines, 209 Lady Oli- 
phant's explanation of the life 
of the community, 212 no for- 
mal religious observances, 213 
the will of God expressed 
through Harris, 219 his human 
charm, 220 the new regime and 
its developments, 222 limited 
knowledge regarding the com- 
munity, 223 spiritual respira- 
tion, 225 doctrine of property, 
ib. interferences with life of 
disciples, 233 puts an embargo 
on Oliphant's marriage, 238 is 
known as " Father " by his dis- 
ciples, 240 Oliphant's defence 
of the prophet, 244 attitude 
with regard to the property of 
disciples, 253 responsibilities 
as "Father," 254 embargo on 
marriage withdrawn, 259 
letter from, describing the 
community, 262 some curious 
points in his policy, 266 
goes to California, 270 re- 
fuses to see Oliphant at Santa 
Rosa, 279 allows Mrs Lau- 
rence Oliphant to join her hus- 
band in Europe, 297 disquiet- 
ing rumours regarding, 304 
conduct to Lady Oliphant, 305 
et seq. Oliphant's struggle to 
recover property at Brocton, 
307 et seq. tries to prove 
Oliphant mad, 309 result of 
struggle, 312 supposed picture 
of, in 'Masollam,' 361. 

Hauran, the, 333, 337- 

Havana, 309. 

Heber, Bishop, 140. 

Herzegovina, 160. 

Hindostanees, the, 26. 

Homan, island of, 129. 

Homburg, visit to, 381. 

Hong- Kong, 120, 121, 136. 
Horse Guards, Oliphant summoned 

to the, 60. 

Hypnotic experiments, 386. 
Hypnotised consciousness, 345. 

Indian tribes, management of, 82. 

Inglis, John, Lord Advocate, sub- 
sequently Lord President of the 
Court of Session, 44. 

Ingour, the river, 105. 

Inspiration, different kinds of, 1 28. 

" Irene, " publication of, in 1877, 
284 an American claims author- 
ship of, ib. 

Italian consolidation, 146. 

Italian struggle of 1860, 146. 

Jacobite lairds of Gask, 3. 
Japan, British embassy in, 150 et 


Jassy, incident at, 165. 
"Jew and the Eastern Question, 

the," 320. 

'Jewish Chronicle,' 286, 318, 325. 
Jewish colonies in Palestine, 296, 


Jewish emigration to Syria, 317. 
Jews, Mansion House Fund for, 

Jordan, the, 287, 365 valley of 

the, 289. 
Jung Bahadour, 19, 21, 22, 23, 

24, 26, 27. 

Kamiesch Bay, 99. 
Kars, the fall of, 110. 
Kellie Castle, 2.. 
Kellie Oliphants, the, 3. 
Khatmandhu, 23, 26, 28. 
Kinglake, A. W., 59. 
Knox, John, quoted, 123. 
Koran, Laurence Oliphant's cita- 
tions from the, 388. 
Krasnoe-Selo plain, the, 50. 
Kremlin, the, 51. 

'Land of Gilead,' the, 287, 291, 
292, 293, 295. 



'Land of Khemi,' publication of 

the, 301. 

Lawrence, Sir Henry, 28. 
Layard, Sir A. H., 295, 
Lectures in Scotch provincial 

towns, 170. 
Lemberg, 314, 321. 
Le Strange, Alice. See Mrs Oli- 


Le Strange, Guy, 341, 343 et seq. 
Le Strange, Hamon, of Hunstan- 

ton, 255, 299, 363. 
Le Strange, Henry, 236. 
Leveson-Gower, Hon. F., 112. 
Liesching, Louis, Esq., of the 

Ceylon Civil Service, 204, 208, 

212, 269. 

Lincoln's Inn, entrance at, 33. 
Loch, Sir Henry, 116. 
Locker, Lady Charlotte, 62. 
Longworth, Mr, 100. 
Lorimer, Professor, 3. 
Lyell, Sir Charles, 169. 
Lyons, Lord, 227. 

Lyons, Sir E., 98. 

Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, 43. 

Magdala, 364. 

Mahatmas, the, 344, 345. 

Malvern, Oliphant's second mar- 
riage at, 401. 

Marmora, the Sea of, 97, 282. 

Marriage, and the doctrines of 
Harris in respect to, 247. 

Marshall's, Mr, article on France, 

Marsh's, Miss, ' Hearts and 
Hands,' 141. 

Martin, Dr, 342, 367, 369. 

Martin, Mrs, 342. 

Marylebone Literary and Scientific 
Institution, 187. 

Masollam, a study, 216. 

'Masollam,' publication of, 361. 

Maurice's, Rev. F. D. , works, 1 74. 

Medium, a, in Paris, 260. 

' Minnesota and the Far West,' 86. 

Mitchell, John, 66. 

Mohammedan "dispensation," 388. 

Moldavia, tour in, 165. 

Montenegro, visit to, 149. 

Moravians, the, 212. 

Morell, J. D., 127, 128. 

' Moss from a Rolling Stone,' 362, 


Mount Temple, Lord, 313. 
Mudie, C. E., 383. 
Mysteries and neophytes, 345. 

Nairne, Lady, 3. 
Nazareth, village of, 363. 
Nazareth range, the, 334. 
Nebraska Bill, the, 66. 
Nepaul, 31, 41, 42. 
Nepaulese, the, 26. 
Newcastle, Duke of, 100, 103. 
NeweraEllia, 13, 17, 18. 
Newman, Francis William, 123. 
New Orleans, 112. 
New York ' World,' 264. 
Nijni Novgorod fair, 50, 52. 
'Nineteenth Century,' the, 320, 


Nirvana, 345. 

Nirvanic condition, the, 346. 
Nisbet's System of Heraldry ' 

referred to, 2. 

Noailles, Marquis de, 320, 321. 
Noel, Ernest, 110. 

O'Dowd, Cornelius, 183, 185. 

Oliphant, Laurence, his race and 
family, 1 birth at Cape Town, 
4 letter to, from his father in 
Ceylon, ib visits the ancestral 
home with his mother, 7 edu- 
cation at a private school, 8 
strong affection of mother and 
child, 10 goes to Ceylon in 
1841, 11 his account of the 
journey, ib. life at Colombo, 
13 sent to England to a tutor, 
14 travels on the Continent 
with his parents, ib. joins mob 
in Italy, 16 witnesses an as- 
sault on the doors of the Prop- 
aganda, 17 abetting revolu- 
tion, ib. returns to Ceylon with 



his father, 17 his shooting 
expeditions, 18 meets Jung 
Bahadour, 19 expedition to 
Nepaul, 20 procures material 
for his first book, ib. visits 
Calcutta, 21 Benares, 22 a 
great picnic party, 25 ele- 
phant hunt, 2? his power 
of self-analysis, 30 first essay 
in independent life, 31 ap- 
pointed private secretary to his 
father, ib. resolves to quit 
Ceylon and try his fortune, 32 
letters to his father, ib. en- 
ters Lincoln's Inn, 33 resides 
with his mother at East Sheen, 
34 is presented at Court, 35 
aspirations, 36 vague character 
of political sentiments, 38 
works in the London slums, ib. 

discouraged by training for 
the English bar, 40 deter- 
mines to join the Scotch bar, ib. 

publishes book on Nepaul, 
41 its success, 42 takes up 
his quarters in Edinburgh, ib. 

opinion of Edinburgh so- 
ciety, 43 experiences in the 
office of a relative, 44 again 
in London, 45 reformatories 
and their uses, 46 meetings 
with roughs, ib. first Conti- 
nental tour, ib. visits the 
southern districts of Russia, 
47 fair at Nijni Novgorod, 
52 voyage down the Volga, 
54 publishes the ' Russian 
Shores of the Black Sea/ 60 
summoned to Horse Guards to 
be questioned regarding his 
knowledge of the Crimea, ib. 
hopes from the interview, 61 
establishes literary connection 
with the Blackwoods, ib. wait- 
ing on fate, 62 Lord Elgin in- 
vites him to act on special diplo- 
matic service as secretary, 63 
first experiences in diplomacy, 
64 story of the expedition to 

the United States, 65 idio- 
syncrasies of American girls, 
67 writes to his mother on 
religious experiences, 69 de- 
scribes a grand luncheon at a 
senator's, 70 meets curious 
people when dining out, 75 
successful issue of the nego- 
tiations at Washington, 77 
reception of the Mission in 
Canada, 79 appointed super- 
intendent of Indian affairs, 81 
planning another book, 82 

his projects, 83 letter on 
religious topics, 84 publishes 
' Minnesota and the Far West, ' 
86 his official duties under 
Lord Elgin, 87 Quebec society, 
91 return to London, 93 pro- 
poses a mission to Schamyl, 94 
leaves for the East with his 
father, 95 received graciously 
by Lord Stratford, 97 uncer- 
tainties and anxieties as to his 
scheme, 98 meets the Duke of 
Newcastle, 100 acts as corre- 
spondent to the 'Times,' 101 
cruising in the Black Sea, 103 
battery making, 105 life in 
camp, 107 views of religion, 
108 in danger from chance 
shots, 109 has a sulky fit of 
devotion, 110 returns from 
the Crimea, ib. visits United 
States with Mr Delane, 111 
foresees the American Civil 
War, 112 the Nicaragua ex- 
pedition, 113 an adventure, 
114 the mission to China, 115 
breaks from his mother's 
evangelical views, 116 joins 
Lord Elgin at Alexandria, 117 

the attitude of his chief on 
hearing of the Indian Mutiny, 
118 thoughts on prayer, 122 

religion continually in his 
thoughts, 124 view of creeds, 
125 religious standing-ground, 
1 26 revelation and inspii-ation, 



1 28 present at capture of Caii- 
ton, 129 his views on Fast 
Days, 130 thoughts on death, 
131 escape from drowning, ib. 
desire for active service, 132 
experiences at Canton, 133 
assists in preparing treaty with 
China, 137 hurried visit to 
Japan, ib. desire to get per- 
manent appointment, 138 at- 
tends a ball when waiting for 
signing of treaty, 139 his 
metaphysical thinking and read- 
ing, 140 assault against re- 
ligious world, 141 death of his 
father, 142 return home, ib. 
letter to his mother on frivolity, 
144 becomes interested in the 
movement for Italian unity, 146 
travels in Montenegro, 149 
goes to Japan, 150 notes 
changed condition of Japanese 
mind, ib. severely wounded 
in Japanese attack on Brit- 
ish embassy, 153 his servant 
writes an account of his master 
to Lady Oliphant, 157 returns 
home and leaves the diplomatic 
service, 158 meets the Prince 
of Wales at Vienna, 159 in- 
vited to accompany his suite to 
Corfu, ib. crosses the moun- 
tains of Albania, ib. visits 
the Abruzzi, 161 watches on 
the spot the Polish insurrec- 
tion of 1863, 163 visits Poland 
after the rising was crushed, 165 
travels in Moldavia, ib. 
his views on the Schleswig- 
Holstein question, 166 enters 
the "world" again, 167 - 
coquetting with various con- 
stituencies, 169 attends the 
British Association at Aber- 
deen, ib. lectures at Glas- 
gow, Edinburgh, and other 
towns, 170 speaks from a 
pulpit, 171 impressions of 
Glasgow, 174 excitement of 

society, 177 is elected member 
for Stirling burghs, 177 
undergoes process of heckling, 
ib. the ' Owl ' project, and 
its success, 178 the 'Owl' 
the precursor of the Society 
papers, ib. publication of 
' Piccadilly,' 182 extraordin- 
ary crisis in his career, 185. 

'The New Life,' 186 first 
mention by Oliphant of Mr 
Harris, ib. the object of Har- 
ris's crusade, 188 the prophet's 
appearance in 'Piccadilly,' 190 
conversation on spiritualism, 
191 et seq. letter on Harris and 
his views, 193 departure for 
America to join the Broctou 
community as a probationer, 
197 hardness of the condi- 
tions, 199 returns to England 
assured in faith, 201 property 
made over to the community, 
203 details of his life at Broc- 
ton, 215 his sketch of Harris 
in ' Masollam,' 216 Harris 
specially inspired, 219 literary 
work at Brocton, 220 return 
to England, 222 success of 
'Piccadilly,' 225 acts as war 
correspondent during Franco- 
Prussian war, 226 remarkable 
experiences, 227 et seq. adven- 
ture with two frightened girls, 
228 mysterious recall, 232 
life in Paris, 234 meets Miss 
Alice le Strange, his future 
wife, 236 announces his en- 
gagement to his friends, 238 
uncertainties and doubts, 240 
correspondence between the 
betrothed couple, 241 et seq. 
defends the prophet, 244 
his views on woman's share in 
religious work, 248 letter to 
Alice on the responsibilities of 
Harris, 254 his financial posi- 
tion in America, 255 relation 
of the Brocton community with 



respect to his property, 257 
marriage, 259 crosses the At- 
lantic with his wife and moth- 
er, 261 holiday at Long Island, 

267 commercial experiences, 

268 trip to Canada with his 
wife, 269 separation from his 
wife, 271 joins a Cable Com- 
pany, 272-273 encounters Jay 
Gould, 274 literary work, ib. 
" Autobiography of a Joint- 
Stock Company," 275 sixty 
pounds for a morning's writing, 
ib. New York experiences, 
276 an unsuccessful journey to 
California, 278 friendship with 
Mr and Mrs Walker, ib.- re- 
turns from Santa Rosa without 
seeing either his wife or Harris, 
279 is ordered to return to 
Brocton, ib. visits London in 
1880,282 his rhymed effusions, 
283 various engagements in 
America, 284 great Eastern 
project, 285 leaves London for 
the East to promote colonisation 
scheme, 287 travels through 
Palestine, ib. prepares articles 
on the " Land of Gilead," 291 
on the shores of the Bosphorus, 
292 virtual end of his scheme 
for the colonisation of Palestine, 
295 again returns to England, 
296 is joined by his wife, 297 
they depart for Egypt, 301 
their journey in the "Land of 
Khemi " described, ib. restric- 
tions imposed on them by the 
prophet, ib. returns to Eng- 
land, 302 prepares to leave for 
America, ib. finds his mother 
very ill, 304 is present at her 
death, 306 goes to stay with 
J. D. Walker, Esq., at San 
Rafael, ib. change of views 
regarding Harris, 307 et seq. 
with the aid of Mr Walker, 
virtually recovers his property 
from Harris, 308 et seq. returns 

to England by way of New Or- 
leans, 309 uncertainty of his 
wife's attitude, ib. she meets 
him at Plymouth, ib. emanci- 
pation of the couple from thral- 
dom, 310 his efforts on behalf 
of the Jews, 311 et seq. leaves 
England with his wife, 312 
settles on the edge of the 
Bosphorus, 319 Jewish colon- 
isation scheme, 322 removes 
to Prinkipo, 323 work and 
studies of the household, ib. 
settlement at Haifa, 324 pub- 
lication of ' Altiora Peto,' 328 
life at Haifa, 329 the Oli- 
phants explore the district, 333 
builds a house at Dalieh, 334 
a Druse village on Carmel, 
340 meeting with General 
Gordon, ib. description of 
the Haifa household, 342 be- 
gins the study of Arabic, 343 
views of 'Esoteric Buddhism,' 
ib. expositions of the faith 
and life at Haifa, 346 produc- 
tion of ' Sympneumata,' 351 
arranges for its publication, 354 
letters with reference to the 
teaching of the work, 355 et seq. 
Mrs Hankin's account of her 
intercourse with him, 358 
General Gordon's opinion of 
' Sympneumata,' 360 engaged 
on 'Masollam,' 361 preparing 
' Moss from a Rolling Stone,' 362 
account of his wife's last days 
addressed to her mother, 366 
returns to England, 375 visits 
Princess Christian, 376 his 
changed appearance, ib. meets 
Mrs Hankin, ib. visits the 
Queen and the Prince of Wales, 
381 visits Mr and Mrs Walker, 
ib. visits Miss Blackwood in 
Edinburgh, ib. his conversation 
brilliant and varied, ib. pub- 
lications at this time, 382 his 
relations with a clergyman of 



the Church of England, 384 
reads the lessons in a church in 
a white surplice, 384 inter- 
ested in hypnotic phenomena, 
386 arrival at Haifa, 387 en- 
gaged in writing two pamphlets 
for Moslems and Jews, ib. 
his strange doctrine regarding 
the creation of man, 388 gives 
an entertainment at Haifa on 
the Queen's Jubilee, 389 
benevolent operations on behalf 
of the Jews, 390 et seq. his 
projects and consolations, 393 
composition of ' Scientific Reli- 
gion, 1 ib. et seq. in London in 
the summer of 1887, 396 
altered health, ib. failure of 
spiritual influx, 397 visits 
America, 399 announces his 
engagement to Rosamond Dale 
Owen, 400 taken ill a day 
or two after his marriage, 401 
is nursed in his illness by his 
wife at the house of Mr Walker, 
ib. taken to the house of Sir 
Mountstuart Grant Duff, 402 
Mr Haskett Smith attends his 
sick-bed, ib. retains his wonted 
humour, 403 his last words, 

Oliphant, Lady, 3 visits Condie 
with her son, 1- again at Condie 
before joining her husband in 
Ceylon, 10 mother and child, 
12 et seq. travels on the Con- 
tinent, 14 et seq. correspond- 
ence with her son, 30 arrives 
in England, 33 resides at East 
Sheen, 34 sends Laurence Oli- 
phant's first book to her hus- 
band, 41 receives from her 
son a description of his tour in 
Russia, 48 et seq. her friend- 
ship with the Elgin family, 62 
her religious views, 83-93 
anxiety while Laurence was in 
the Crimea, 99 et seq. parting 
of mother and son, 117 inter- 


est in her son's religious views, 
121 et seq. receives an account 
of the attack on Laurence in 
Japan, 157 et seq. her adher- 
ence to Harris, 186 et seq. 
goes to Brocton in 1868, 203 
her bitter probation, ib. corre- 
spondence with an old friend as 
to Harris's views, 205, 208, 212 
return from Brocton, 233 
resides in Paris, ib. her intim- 
acy with Alice le Strange, her 
son's future wife, 238 repre- 
sentation from the community 
addressed to her as to the in- 
tended marriage of her son, 240 
returns to Brocton, 261 
performs menial duties, 26G 
lives alone with her daughter- 
in-law, 269 her lonely life at 
Brocton, 304 her son finds her 
suffering from cancer, ib. medi- 
cal aid summoned, ib. is taken 
to California, ib. doubts re- 
garding the prophet, ib. her 
death, 306 remarkable scene 
at her deathbed, ib. 
Oliphant, Mrs, nee Alice le Strange, 
her introduction to Laurence 
Oliphant, 236 a friend of Lady 
Oliphant's, 238 her engage- 
ment, 239 objections of her 
family and friends, ib. opposi- 
tion from Brocton, 240 sub- 
mits to Harris, 249 her views 
on spiritual life, 250 places her 
property in the hands of Harris, 
253 et seq. objections with- 
drawn, and marriage celebrated, 
259 enters on life at Brocton, 
262, 266 lives with her mother- 
in-law, 269 no record of her 
ordeal, 270 ordered to go to 
Santa Rosa, 272 leaves Santa 
Rosa for Vallejo, 279 kind- 
ness of Mr and Mrs Walker, 
ib. Mrs Walker visits Alice 
at Vallejo, 280 work there, 
282 supposed to be injured 




and suffering in California, 297 
resolves to rejoin her husband, 
ib. her reception in society, 

298 et seq. Sandringham ball, 

299 her explanation of her 
American life, 300 et seq. trip 
to Egypt, 301 resides at 
Windsor, 302 her explanations 
of faith, 303 describes the 
Bosphorus to her sister, 319 
her letters on the Haifa settle- 
ment, 336 et seq. thoughts on 
work, 350 production of 'Sym- 
pneumata,' 359 visited by Mr 
and Mrs Waller, 362 pro- 
poses to visit her mother in 
London, 363 excursion to 
Galilee, ib. catches fever, 366 
her husband's account of her 
illness and death, ib. her sis- 
ter's description of her death 
and burial, 368. 

Oliphant, Mrs Rosamond, 214, 401. 

Oliphant, Sir Anthony, Chief- 
Justice of Ceylon, 4 letter to 
his son Laurence, ib. his office 
and duties, 6, 7 is joined by 
his wife in Ceylon, 10 his hos- 
pitality, 1 3 travels on the Con- 
tinent, 14 et seq. returns to 
Ceylon, 17 joins his wife in 
England, 63 goes to the 
Crimea with his son, 95 
his death, 142 alleged death- 
warning, ib. canvassed for his 
son when contesting the Stir- 
ling burghs, 143. 

Oliphant, Lieutenant - Colonel 
James, 10, 23. 

Oliphant mottoes, 328. 

Oliphants of Condie, 3. 

Oliphant, Robert, W.S., 40, 42, 44. 

Oliphant, T. L. Kington, Esq., 3. 

Oliphant, Sir William, of Aber- 
dalgy, 2. 

Oliphant, Thomas, 41. 

Omar Pasha, 103, 104, 113. 

Osborne, Captain Sherard, 133, 
136, 169. 

Owen, Professor, 169. 

Owen, Robert, 400. 

Owen, Robert Dale, 400. 

Owen, Rosamond Dale, afterwards 

Mrs Laurence Oliphant, 400. 
'Owl,' projection of the, 178 its 

success, 180 et seq. 

Palestine colonisation scheme, the, 
285, 286. 

Palestine exploration, 364. 

Palmer, Professor, 341, 343. 

Parker, Theodore, 123, 127, 128. 

Parliament House, the, 45. 

Parr's, Mr, school, 8, 9, 10. 

Parson, a military, 125. 

Perfectionists, the, 212. 

Phai, a German servant, 369. 

Philadelphia, life at, 65. 

Phillips, Henry, 338. 

Philosophical Institution, Edin- 
burgh, lectures on Japan at the, 

' Piccadilly,' serial publication of, 
182, 183, 185. 

Pius IX., 17. 

Polish insurrection of 1863, 163. 

Polish national song, 164. 

Political parties in America, 73. 

Pollock, Charles, 37. 

Popular theology, 246. 

Portland, U.S.A., 78, 79. 

Primrose, Hon. E. H., 89. 

Princess Christian, 376. 

Protestant missionaries and their 
incomes, 136. 

Puseyite service, 174. 

Quaker convert to the views of 

Harris, 208-9. 
Quebec, 80 society of, 91. 
Queen's Jubilee celebration at 

Haifa, 389. 
Queen, the, 35 invites Laurence 

Oliphant to Balmoral, 381. 
" Questions, answers to," 347 et 


Raglan, Lord, 60, 61. 



Rechten, Madame cle, 337. 

" Recollections of Irene Macgilli- 
cuddy," 276. 

"Reconstruction of Sheepfolds," 

Religion, Laurence Oliphant's 
thoughts on, 124. 

' Revue Hypnotique,' the, 386. 

Rishis, the, 345. 

Robertson, Lord, anecdote of, 45. 

Roman Catholic belief, 102. 

Roney, Sir Cusack, 71, 74, 79. 

Royal Institution lectures, 38. 

' Russian Shores of the Black 
Sea,' the, 60. 

Russia the natural enemy of Ger- 
many, 231. 

Russo-Turkish War, foreshadow- 
ing of the, 160. 

Safed, 326, 391 Jews of, 391. 
Salem-on-Erie, 199, 270. 
Salem-on-Erie hotel, 264. 
Salpetriere hospital, the, 386. 
Sandringham, ball at, 299, 300. 
San Rafael, 279, 281, 282, 306, 


Santa Rosa, 271, 304, 307. 
Satirical verses, 297. 
Schamyl, 94, 95, 97, 99, 100, 103. 
Schleswig-Holstein question, the, 

166, 179. 

Schmidt, Dr, 367, 368, 369. 
Schumacher, Herr, 325, 371. 
' Scientific Religion,' preparation 

and publication of, 380, 384, 


Scotch country-houses, 172. 
Scott, Sir Walter, 45, 182. 
Sebastopol, 48, 53, 59. 
Seeley, Professor, 211. 
Shaftesbury, Lord, 45, 135. 
Shakers, the, 212. 
Sharon, plain of, 334. 
Shittim, the plains of, described, 

Shooting expeditions in Ceylon, 

Shtawy, 364, 366. 

Simmons, Sir J. Lintorn, 105, 106. 

" Sisters of Thibet, the," 344. 

Skender Pasha, 105, 106. 

Slav Christian peasant rising, 160. 

Smith, Mr Haskett, 402. 

Smith, Oswald, 46 writes an 
obituary notice of Laurence 
Oliphant, 47. 

Smith, William, ' Thorndale,' 140. 

Sinnett's ' Esoteric Buddhism,' 
and its nature, 343, 344, 345. 

Social and moral reform, 256. 

Society papers, 181. 

Somerset, Duchess of, letters tc, 
151, 226, 230. 

Soul, the, and its destiny, 350. 

Souz, a Haifa colonist, 370. 

Speke, Captain, 96, 169. 

Spencer Wood, 80 et seq. 

Spiritual intercourse, 385. 

Spiritualistic communications, 350. 

Spiritual mediumship, 345. 

Spiritual potency, 346. 

Spiritual respiration, 213. 

Spiritual Society, the, 345. 

" Star in the East, the," 387. 

Steinway Hall, 186. 

Stirling burghs, the, 111, 143, 169. 

Stratford de Redcliffe, Lord, 95, 
96, 97, 98. 

Sugdidi, 107. 

Sultan, negotiations with, 290. 

" Summer camp on Carmel " re- 
ferred to, 334. 

' Sympneumata, ' production and 
publication of, 351, 353 Lau- 
rence Oliphant's explanation of, 
355, 356 references to, 357, 
359, 377, 380, 385, 393, 394, 

Taganrog, 48 arrival at, 56. 
Taylor, Sir Henry, 34. 
Tea- Room Cave, the, 194. 
Thaumaturgic movements, 380. 
Theosophical Society, the, 344. 
Therapia, 92, 96, 292. 
Thibet Brothers, the, 344. 
Thiers, M., 259. 



Thieves, work among, 38. 

' Thorndale,' 140. 

Tiberias, 364-366, 367, 374. 

' Times ' correspondent, appoint- 
ment as, 233. 

Toombs, Senator, 76. 

' Traits and Travesties,' 310. 

" Trance Writings," 359. 

Treaty, drawing up, 77. 

Tristram, Canon, quoted, 288. 

Troubridge, Lady, 36. 

" Turkish Effendi," the, 327. 

Twickenham cemetery, grave of 
Laurence Oliphant in, 407. 

" Use," occupations of the, 335. 

Vallejo, 279, 280, 281. 
Vegetarian diet, a, 349. 
Volga, the, 47, 54 voyage down 
the, ib. 

Wady Hamman, the, 364. 
Wady Semack, the, 365. 
Wales, Prince of, 159, 381. 
Walker, General, 113, 149. 

Walker, Mr J. D. and Mrs, 278, 
279, 280, 281, 282, 305, 306, 
307, 308, 340, 381, 393, 395, 
401, 402. 

Waller, the Rev. A. and Mrs, 362, 

Wall Street practices, 273. 

Washington experiences, 64 ne- 
gotiations, 77. 

Wilson, Andrew, ' The Abode of 
Snow,' 273. 

Wimbledon, visits to, 10. 

Windsor Castle, 190. 

Windsor, Mrs Oliphant's residence 
at, 222. 

Wintering in Canada, 92. 

Yani, Oliphant's Bulgarian ser- 
vant, 401. 

Yedo, 138, 150. 

Yeh, 129, 135. 

Yokohama, indignities to Euro- 
peans at, 151. 

York House, Twickenham, 402. 

Zaritzen, 53, 55.